National Partners Programme 2019-22 concludes with a series of partners' exhibitions

31 March 2022

Over the last three years, Firstsite, Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange and Sunderland Culture have delivered a total of 30 exhibitions, projects and events thanks to the National Lottery through the Arts Council Collection National Partners Programme. From working with children and young people, to inviting local groups to curate exhibitions for their galleries, all three venues have embraced a community-centred approach to exhibition-making, something that has created a lasting legacy for their future programming.

The National Partners Programme launched in 2016 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Arts Council Collection with the aim of reaching new audiences through building a network of galleries and museums across England.

2019-22 National Partners Firstsite, Sunderland Culture and Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange will present a final series of exhibitions and collaborations which reflect, support and champion the voices of their local communities as the programme concludes. Using works from the Arts Council Collection as their focus, these exhibitions explore themes of race and class, as well as offering inspiration and hope for the future.

Firstsite conclude their Partnership programming with Keep Being Amazing, an exhibition influenced by their Holiday Fun programme which celebrates family, togetherness and overcoming adversity. For the past five years, Firstsite’s Holiday Fun programme has been celebrating the positive impact that creativity has on self-worth, while also inspiring problem-solving and mental wellbeing.

Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange continue their New Voices strand of programming with exhibitions Captured Beauty and Simple Truths which will mark the end of the National Partners Programme. These displays provide a platform to members of the community not often heard by offering them the opportunity to curate works selected from the Arts Council Collection.

Sunderland Culture round up their National Partners programming with three final exhibitions exploring local heritage, class and societal change. Where There’s Space to Grow, curated by Celebrate Different Collective, a group of young people living in Sunderland, is currently on show at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens.


In April, Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens will present Grayson Perry: The Vanity of Small Differences, the large-scale tapestry series which follows the fictional Sunderland-born character Tim Rakewell, as he advances through the British social class system.

Sunderland Culture’s programme concludes with Island, which explores the coastal experience in the North East and nationally, juxtaposing often romanticised ideals with lived experiences.

Jodie Edwards, General Manager, National Partners Programme, says: "Over the course of the last three years, we have been consciously placing people at the heart of what we do, investigating the meaning of partnership – both with each other and the communities we serve.

"These new approaches to working have led us all to consider the long term potential of co-production, and to question how we continue to build on this work and nurture these relationships in the future."



The Arts Council Collection is the UK's most widely seen collection of modern and contemporary art.

With more than 8,000 works by over 2,000 artists, it can be seen in exhibitions and public displays across the country and beyond. This website offers unprecedented access to the Collection, and information about each work can be found on this site.