Art UK - Chair

Art UK seeks to appoint an experienced and energetic Chair with a strong interest in the arts and a commitment to democratising access to the UK’s publicly owned art collection. (Deadline: 1st June)

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Art UK is a cultural education charity on a mission to make the art in UK public collections accessible to everyone – for enjoyment, learning and research. By digitising artworks, telling the stories behind the art, and creating exciting opportunities for public interaction with art, both online and offline, Art UK enables audiences at home and around the world to learn about the UK’s public art collections. 

No other country in the world has a resource like Art UK. Over 80% of the UK’s publicly owned art is not on public view and, until Art UK started its work, much of this art had not been photographed. The charity’s work is helping to change this radically, making what is publicly owned, publicly accessible – to anyone, anywhere. Originally focused on oil paintings, its scope has widened to include prints, drawings, watercolours, sculpture and photography. 

Art UK plays a major role supporting public art collections by improving their accessibility and sustainability. Its platform currently shows over 280,000 artworks by 51,000 artists, with new content being added each day. It is an ambitious collaboration between 3,400 institutions, making it one of the largest arts partnerships put together in the UK. Its innovative Art Detective initiative helps public collections solve mysteries behind their artworks and its Shop generates much needed commercial income for them. The Art UK website had four million unique visitors in 2021. 

Art UK's learning portal makes all its learning resources easily searchable through one interface and links all UK schools to the national art collection. A key strategy for 2022 is increasing the interactive nature of Art UK by re-launching its artwork tagging project for specialists and members of the public alike. The charity is funded through a mixture of public funding (Arts Council England, National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Scottish Government and Creative Scotland) and private sector funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, grant-giving trusts, corporates, individual donors, collection subscription income and commercial income. Art UK has two offices, one in Stoke-on-Trent and one in Glasgow.

Role specification

The incoming Chair will join a dynamic and entrepreneurial organisation, and a dedicated and passionate Trustee Board. In a friendly environment, the new Chair will be able to make a substantial contribution towards the charity’s mission to open up access to the UK’s national art collection in imaginative and compelling ways, while at the same time contributing to the sustainability of public art collections across the UK. 

The Board of Trustees has ultimate responsibility for ensuring that Art UK follows a strategy which delivers public benefit in accordance with the charity’s Articles of Association. The Trustees ensure that the charity acts responsibly with regard to the management of risk and financial control, and in accordance with the law. 

The Board delegates certain responsibilities and decision-making to two executive committees which are made up of Trustees and senior management. High regard is paid by Trustees and management to external guidance as evidenced by a range of advisory bodies including the Advisory Board and a small number of Steering Panels providing expert guidance on aspects of the charity’s work, which are made up, typically, of project stakeholders. Finally, there is a Philanthropy Board comprising Trustees and external appointments who focus on individual giving.

Person specification

As Art UK looks to grow significantly the number of artworks on its platform and grow its engagement with the public across a number of fronts, it seeks to appoint an experienced and energetic Chair who has a long-standing interest in art and a commitment to democratising access to the UK’s publicly-owned art collection. 

The successful candidate will be very familiar with the UK museum world and the visual arts scene and have a good understanding of the potential for digital to connect the public with the art they own. They will be able to think strategically and provide a strong sounding board for the executive. They will be able to develop positive relationships with both internal and external stakeholders, and play an ambassadorial role in representing the charity, expanding its network, profile and impact within both public and private business environments.  

Previous experience of supporting organisations with fundraising would be welcome, as well as an understanding of digital-first organisations, diversifying audiences and the potential for online media and retail.

Art UK welcomes and encourages applications from candidates who are under-represented in the creative industries, particularly individuals who experience physical, mental, or social barriers to accessing the arts.

Board of Trustees

Charles Gregson, Outgoing Chair
Noura Al-Maashouq 
Hasan Bakhshi 
Rana Begum 
David Ekserdjian 
George Entwistle
Errol Francis
Clare Lilley 
Bob Lisney OBE 
Thomas Marks 
Kathleen Soriano
Kim Streets 
Andria Zafirakou MBE

Terms of appointment

This is an unremunerated role, but the successful candidate will be reimbursed for all necessary travelling expenses. Trustee Board meetings take place quarterly. The meetings are usually in-person, with at least one meeting in Stoke, but are held on occasion via Zoom. Board meetings are accompanied by relevant reading material that is provided in advance. Outside these meetings there will be contact from time to time with the Director, Deputy Director, Trustees and members of the senior management team. The appointed Chair is also encouraged to attend a selection of the events run by the charity during the year. The length of the appointment is usually four years. The Chair may, however, serve two consecutive terms. Candidates should be UK-based.

The deadline for consideration is 1st June. If you would like to register your interest, please do so below.

If you would like to register your interest, please do so below. A member of the Nurole team will be in touch ahead of the deadline to let you know whether it would be worth submitting a full application and to discuss the process further.