Arts Council of Wales | Cymru yn Fenis | Wales in Venice 2019
Cymru yn Fenis | Wales in Venice 2019

Cymru yn Fenis | Wales in Venice 2019

Cymru yn Fenis Wales in Venice 2019 Arts Council of Wales opens a first stage call

Deadline for Expressions of Interest: 5 March 2018, 12.00pm

Cymru yn Fenis Wales in Venice 2019 will be the 9th exhibition since its first presence in 2003 which established its reputation as an official Collateral Event of the International Art Exhibition – La Biennale da Venezia.*

Cymru yn Fenis Wales in Venice will continue to evolve and rise to the challenge and opportunities of the ever expanding Venice Biennale and to build on our continued presence and reputation. We want to interrogate what Wales’s presentation could be in 2019 in the context of current practice, connections, experience and ambition of the visuals arts in Wales. Consideration must also be given to Wales’s response to the Venice Biennale in recent years and its position at one of the most prestigious international platforms for the Visual Arts.

The selection process for Cymru yn Fenis Wales in Venice 2019 opens with a call for Expressions of Interest focusing on the selection of the artist(s). This continues the approach established for the 2017 presentation, extending the call to welcome responses from Wales and beyond. Its aim is to drive out the continued calibre of artist/s proposition necessary for Wales to sustain the trajectory of its international presence and reputation for exhibition making in the context of the Biennale.

Expressions of Interest will be shortlisted by the Cymru yn Fenis Wales in Venice Selection Panel. Successful applicants will be invited to present a Project Proposal to outline the creative project proposed, the team that will deliver it and evidence how it meets the developmental aims of our selection criteria.

*Presentation as a Collateral Event of the 58th International Art Exhibition 2019 is subject to application and approval of La Biennale da Venezia.

The dates for the Venice Biennale, 58th International Art Exhibition are 11 May - 24 November 2019; Press Preview 8, 9 and 10 May; Opening to the public Saturday 11 May.

What is Cymru yn Fenis Wales in Venice?

Cymru yn Fenis Wales in Venice is a partnership between Arts Council of Wales (the Commissioner) and the exhibition team (organisation/s, individual/s) selected to deliver the presentation.

The rationale for presenting in Venice and what we seek to achieve is reflected in our partnership aims. These aims help define the project choice of our biennial presentations at the Biennale:

Present the most exciting and creative artists associated with Wales.

  • Focus international and national attention on the diverse range of critically valued work in, from and to do with Wales.
  • Create international experiences and connections for galleries, curators and artists that will develop the visual arts in Wales.
  • Celebrate Wales in the World as dynamic, culturally engaged and forward-looking.

James Richards’ exhibition Music for the gift, featured a new body of work including a sound installation, video and photographic works, to represent Cymru yn Fenis Wales in Venice as a collateral event of the 57th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. The exhibition curated by Chapter, Cardiff was presented for the fourth time at the venue, Santa Maria Ausiliatrice.

A dedicated online resource for the projects in 2015 and 2017 can be found here:

Archive of previous exhibitions can be found here:

An evaluative study ‘The value and impact of Wales’ presence at the Venice Biennale for the visual arts sector in Wales’ published in 2016 is available here:

Who can apply?

Expressions of Interest can be submitted by the following, working in the contemporary visual arts in Wales or internationally:

  • Artistic Directors or curators working with artists in publicly funded galleries;
  • visual arts organisations/agencies;
  • artist led initiatives;
  • independent or commercial galleries
How do I apply?

The selection process opens with an invitation for Expressions of Interest, focusing on the artist(s) potential and point in career to meet the opportunity and challenges that the Venice Biennale presents.

Applicants must register for an application pack which provides further details about the submission procedure.

To register, please email the Commissioner with the subject heading, ‘Application Pack Request Cymru yn Fenis Wales in Venice 2019’.

What are the requirements?

Expressions of Interest submitted:

  • Must be endorsed by the artist(s) named in the submission.
  • If presented by an individual or organisation who is based outside of Wales, the submission must include an endorsement letter from a member of VAGW* or an independent curator or Director working in the visual arts based in Wales.
  • Applicants may propose or endorse more than one proposal (maximum of 3).

*VAGW (Visual Arts Group Wales) is the Professional Association for venues and organisations in Wales that both produce and present contemporary visual arts.

VAGW membership comprises:

Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Addo, Artes Mundi, bloc, Cardiff Council, Chapter, Craft in the Bay, Eisteddfod, Ffotogallery, g39, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre, Locws International, Mission Gallery, MOSTYN, National Museum Wales, Oriel Davies Gallery, Oriel Myrddin Gallery, Oriel Plas Glyn y Weddw, Peak (formerly Art Alive) Ruthin Craft Centre and Oriel Wrexham.

As members of Cymru yn Fenis Wales in Venice Advisory Committee, Amgueddfa Cymru National Museum Wales and Artes Mundi are excluded from participating in any submission.

The Selection Panel will shortlist a minimum of 3, maximum of 5 of the Expressions of Interest.

Shortlisted submissions will be invited to present a Project Proposal in person to the Selection Panel. A maximum of 3 people will be invited to the presentation.

A Project Proposal submission:

  • Must be endorsed by the artist(s) named in the submission.
  • Include a Wales based organisation in the delivery of the project, which demonstrates a commitment to lead the project or contribute significantly to the origination and development of the project as a whole.
  • Demonstrate the delivery team has capacity, skills and expertise to deliver a significant international project.
  • Have a strong partnership approach, which may include Academic Institutions, commercial galleries, producing agencies or international partners and collaborators. Collaborations may be curatorial, artistic or focus on delivery and/or resources. Partners can be based outside Wales.
  • Identify an Exhibition Director in the team with responsibility for reporting to the Commissioner on all aspects of the project including budget management.
  • Applicants may submit or participate in one or more proposals at this stage.

What is the selection criteria?

The criteria which proposals need to fulfil for Cymru yn Fenis Wales in Venice are:
a) To celebrate the diverse and critically valued work of artists associated with Wales;
b) Offer career opportunities at a significant juncture for participants;
c) Attract and focus attention and debate about art in, from and to do with Wales to deepen critical discourse nationally and internationally;
d) Focus curatorial interest on art being produced in Wales, leading to greater exposure of artists from Wales;

Additionally the proposal will:
e) Give experiences, aspiration and context to artists in early career (through experience of the Biennale, invigilator programmes, live guides, education work and networking possibilities);
f) Support the developmental context for gallery enterprises in Wales;
g) Promote Wales’s visual culture to the Welsh public, pointing up the value of placing contemporary Welsh art in an international context and ensuring the dissemination of the Wales presence in Venice either through a complementary exhibition or other allied activity that is Wales based.

The Selection Panel

The 2019 decision panel will consist of members of the Cymru yn Fenis Wales in Venice Advisory Committee.

Advisory Committee Members:

Adrian George, Associate Director (Exhibitions) at ArtScience Museum, Singapore
Emma Gifford-Mead, Head of Exhibitions, Lisson Gallery, London
Mary Griffiths, Curator of Modern Art, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester
Karen MacKinnon, Director, Artes Mundi
Nick Thornton, Head of Fine & Contemporary Art, National Museum Wales
Iwan Bala, Council Member of Arts Council of Wales
Louise Wright, Portfolio Manager Arts Council of Wales and Lead Commissioner
David Alston, Director Arts, Arts Council of Wales

The panel is Chaired by Arts Council of Wales Council member, Melanie Hawthorne.

The panel may include invited panel members with visual arts expertise and practice. Invited observers may include representatives from Wales Arts International and British Council Wales.

The deliberations of the Selection Panel will exclusively determine the presentation.

The artist(s) to represent Cymru yn Fenis Wales in Venice in 2019 at the Venice Biennale will be officially announced in May/June 2018.

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