Tate galleries to appoint Maria Balshaw as new director

Tate galleries to appoint Maria Balshaw as new director

Maria Balshaw is set to succeed Nicholas Serota as director of the Tate galleries, making her the first woman to lead the organisation.

Maria Balshaw, who is currently the head of Manchester's Whitworth Art Gallery, has been the frontrunner for the Tate director role after Serota announced in September last year that he was to step down after 28 years.

According to the Guardian, Tate trustees have proposed Balshaw – who also heads up the University of Manchester and Manchester City Galleries – to UK prime minister Theresa May. But the decision is awaiting final approval before an official announcement can be made.

If appointed, Balshaw will be the first woman to take on this leading role, which would encompass the Tate Modern and Tate Britain in London, as well as Tate St Ives and Tate Liverpool.

Balshaw has been pivotal in the development of Manchester's arts and culture activities. As director of The Whitworth gallery since June 2006, she oversaw its £15 million renovation and expansion by MUMA in 2015.

In 2011 she was appointed director of Manchester City Galleries, which partners the University of Manchester and Manchester City Council for joint exhibition projects.

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Manchester's Whitworth gallery was extended by MUMA under Balshaw's leadership

She has also served as the Director of Culture for Manchester City Council, and in April 2014 was appointed as a board member of Arts Council England.

To mark her services to the arts, Balshaw was awarded a CBE at the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2015.

Balshaw will succeed Serota, who is expected to take on a part-time role as chair of the UK's Arts Council – the body responsible for allocating public money to creative projects, companies and institutions – in February 2017.

Nicholas Serota steps down as director of the Tate Modern
Balshaw will succeed Nicholas Serota, who is stepping down as director of Tate galleries

Serota is one of the UK's leading arts figures, and has long been a vocal champion of the country's creative industries.

He was the driving force behind the creation of Tate Modern, as well as the appointment of Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron to overhaul the former Bankside Power Station building it now occupies.

He also helped chose the same firm to design the Tate Modern's £260 million Switch House extension, as well as securing 2016 Stirling Prize winners Caruso St John as the architects for the £45 million renovation of Tate Britain.