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Maria Balshaw

Director of The Whitworth and Manchester City Galleries

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Projects

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About me


Director of the Whitworth, University of Manchester and Manchester City Galleries
 and Appointed Director of The Tate. Maria Balshaw has been Director of the Whitworth since June 2006. She has coordinated a challenging programme of historic, modern and contemporary exhibitions that capitalise on the Whitworth’s university location as well as having a strong international profile. She has led a successful campaign to expand the gallery and reconnect it to the surrounding park as well as modernise and revitalise the whole gallery. This £15 million development is being supported by an £8.5 million award from the Heritage Lottery Fund and major awards from other trusts and foundation, including the Clore Duffield Foundation.
 
In 2011 she took on the role of Director of Manchester City Galleries alongside her duties at the Whitworth. This dual Directorship represents a unique partnership between the University of Manchester and Manchester City Council, bringing the two institutions and Manchester’s historic and modern art collections into complementary alliance for the first time in their history. Retaining their separate governance arrangements and their distinctive personalities the two Galleries will evolve complementary programmes and joint exhibition projects that build on the strength of the city collections and a spirit of Manchester radicalism. 
Maria secured a Paul Hamlyn Breakthrough Award in 2010, a £260,000 grant in recognition of her exceptional cultural entrepreneurship. Whitworth Art Gallery also won the 2011 Lever Prize for best cultural organisation in the North West of England. Maria has also recently taken on the role of Director of Culture for Manchester City Council and in April 2014 the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport appointed Maria Balshaw as a board member of Arts Council England. The appointment is for a term of 4 years, from 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2018.
 
Early career experience included working as Director of Development and External Relations at Arts Council: West Midlands and from 2002 – 2005 she was Director of Creative Partnerships: Birmingham. In 2004, Maria was selected as one of the inaugural Fellows for the Clore Cultural Leadership programme. Before moving into the cultural sector Maria worked as Research Fellow in Urban Culture at the University of Birmingham and as lecturer in Cultural Studies at University College Northampton. She published a number of books and essays on African-American urban culture, gender and visuality. Maria was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to the arts in June 2015. In 2017, after 11 years at the forefront of Manchester’s arts and cultural scene, Dr. Maria Balshaw will step down as Director of the Whitworth and Manchester City Galleries in early summer, to take up the role as the first female Director of Tate.

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Skills

  • Art
  • Galleries
  • Gallery
  • Production
  • Production/project Management

Work history

Currently

Director

Manchester City Galleries

Jan 2011
  • Manchester, United Kingdom
  • Full Time
  • In 2011, Balshaw took on the role of Director of Manchester City Galleries alongside her duties at the Whitworth. This dual directorship brought the two institutions collections of historic and modern art into alliance for the first time in their history. Upon the appointment, Richard Leese leader of Manchester City Council, said creating a joint director role for the two galleries would “not only safeguard, but significantly enhance the city’s cultural reputation”

2017

Director

The Whitworth

Jan 2006 - Jun 2017
  • Manchester, United Kingdom
  • Full Time
  • In 2006, Balshaw was headhunted to become the Director of the Whitworth. Throughout her work at the Whitworth, Balshaw has featured a broad range of disciplines championing art from around the world in particular West and South African art and the work of female artists.