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Chester art gallery is top of wishlist for expert group

Chester Visual Arts aim to put city on contemporary arts map

Chester Visual Arts aims to put the city on the contemporary arts map

An independent body comprising experts from culture and business in Chester is aiming to put the city on the map for contemporary arts and includes plans for a permanent gallery to attract people from across the country.

Research commissioned by Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) earlier this year culminated in the draft Chester Heritage, Museums and Visual Arts Strategy which is due to go out for wider consultation.

Chester Visual Arts (CVA) was formed nine months ago by a group of like-minded business and arts leaders from across the city to address the cultural deficiencies focusing on visual arts.

The group is in the early stages of formulating a strategy, in collaboration with UK arts and heritage organisations as well as local and national government, and held its first development forum on September 22.

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Ian Short, chairman of Chester Visual Arts, said: “We hope to create a permanent art gallery in Chester and a regular programme of quality events and exhibitions which will lead to the city becoming a go to place nationally and internationally.

“And by offering better support to the city’s established artists – many of whom are recognised across the UK and internationally – we hope it will help retain their expertise in the area and provide emerging artists with an arena to showcase their talent.

“The city has a vibrant arts scene and we want to co-ordinate all the visual arts activity and bring together all the interested parties to benefit the city. The plans are in their early stages and we will look to communicate them in more detail as they progress.”

The CVA includes experts in the cultural economy, curating, business, estate management as well as legal and property development.

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The group was founded by the directors of AielloShort, an art and regeneration business based in Saighton, and includes representatives from Grosvenor Estate, the University of Chester, Chester Cathedral, the North West Business Leadership Team and private sector arts patrons.

It is also represented on the Chester Growth Partnership (formerly Chester Renaissance) and will be working closely with the council’s cultural representatives.

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Councillor Louise Gittins, Cabinet member for communities and wellbeing, said: “It is an exciting time for the arts in Chester with the opening of the Storyhouse culture centre in 2017 as well as the city’s established offerings such as the Chester Literature Festival, the Grosvenor Park open air theatre and Moonlight Flicks.

“Although still in its early stages, we believe that the council’s partnership with Chester Visual Arts will be able to successfully put Chester on the map for the visual arts.”

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