Turner Prize cancelled; replaced with £10k bursaries

Tate has announced that it will replace the Turner Prize this year with a series of ten one-off bursaries. The artists, who will be chosen by the already-established jury will each receive £10,000. Traditionally the British art prize awards one artist £25,000 with £5,000 given to the three other names on the shortlist.

Alex Farquharson, director of Tate Britain and chair of the Turner Prize jury, said in a statement: ‘The practicalities of organising a Turner Prize exhibition are impossible in the current circumstances, so we have decided to help support even more artists during this exceptionally difficult time. I think JMW Turner, who once planned to leave his fortune to support artists in their hour of need, would approve of our decision. I appreciate visitors will be disappointed that there is no Turner Prize this year, but we can all look forward to it returning in 2021.’

This will be the second year in a row that the prize has seen a break in format. In 2019 the shortlisted artists’ request that they share the prize fund was granted by the jury to some controversy. Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock, Oscar Murillo and Tai Shani were named ‘joint winners’. That move sparked a debate on the merits of art prizes, with criticisms made against their competitive nature.

Organisers say the jury this year, which features Richard Birkett, curator at large at the Institute of Contemporary Arts; Sarah Munro, director of BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art; Fatoş Üstek, director of Liverpool Biennial; and the designer Duro Olowu, were able to see a substantial number of shows before the lockdown. The ten artists will be announced in late June.

Normally jury members are asked to bring approximately four names each to a meeting at which a four-strong shortlist is drawn up. A second meeting is then held on the day of the prize ceremony at which the winner is picked.

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