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'Useful art' champion Alistair Hudson to run Manchester galleries

Alistair Hudson Image copyright Mima

Manchester’s two main art galleries are to be run by Alistair Hudson, a champion of the “useful art” movement.

Hudson has been named director of the Whitworth and Manchester Art Gallery, taking over from Maria Balshaw, who left to run Tate earlier this year.

During his career, he has been a passionate advocate of art that plays a role in society and the community.

Announcing his new post, he pledged to work on “projects that have real impact in people’s lives”.

He will take up the role in January after leaving his current post at the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (Mima), where he set out the institution’s vision as a “useful museum”.

Image copyright Whitworth gallery

He described Manchester’s cultural scene as “one of the most dynamic and diverse in the country”.

“Maria Balshaw and her teams have established both institutions at the forefront of the democratisation of art, working for all of society,” he said.

“I look forward to driving this mission forward and working across the region in projects that have real impact in people’s lives.”

The Whitworth was named Museum of the Year in 2015 after a £15m expansion.

Hudson was on the Turner Prize panel in 2015 and championed design collective Assemble, who won for their project renovating derelict terraced houses in Toxteth, Liverpool.

Before his Middlesbrough job, he worked for Grizedale Arts in Coniston, Cumbria, which enlisted a Turner-nominated artist to redesign the village library, persuaded Kinks singer Ray Davies to write a school play and set up a shop for local crafts.

Prof James Thompson of the University of Manchester, which runs the Whitworth, said: “Alistair is dedicated to the idea of cultural institutions as a force for promoting social change, and this fits precisely with the mission of the Whitworth.”

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