Arts Council Collection National Partners Programme

The National Partners Programme was launched in 2016 to mark the 70th anniversary of the Arts Council Collection – the most widely circulated national loan collection of modern and contemporary British art in the world.

Funded by the National Lottery, the programme aims to build a deeper relationship with regional audiences by building a UK-wide network across regional partners, connecting local visitors to their national collection.

As part of the second round of the programme running from 2019-2022, Firstsite was chosen as one of the regional galleries and museums to present and curate exhibitions drawn from their collection. Other partners selected include Sunderland Culture in Tyne and Wear, and The Newlyn Art Gallery and The Exchange in Cornwall.



Our Arts Council Collection National Partner exhibitions


Super Black (2019)

The first in the series of Arts Council Collection National Partner exhibitions, Super Black asked, ‘What does it mean to be black in England today?’

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Tell me the story of all these things (2020)

The exhibition featured artworks made by some of Britain’s best-known artists, including Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas, Cornelia Parker and Gillian Wearing – each selected by radical women of Colchester.

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My Name is Not Refugee (2021)

Recognising the differing views of life in Britain, this exhibition featured artworks chosen by a group of refugees and asylum seekers living in Colchester.

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Art for Life (2021)

Art for Life highlighted the perspectives of the Covid pandemic from different audiences and encouraged visitors to reflect on their own thoughts and experiences in this poignant exhibition.

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House Share (2021)

What does ‘home’ mean to you?

House Share revealed the thoughts and experiences of young people in Essex during the three UK lockdowns, and their changing relationship to the home.

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Keep Being Amazing (2022)

Inspired by Firstsite’s celebrated and and ground-breaking Holiday Fun Programme – Keep Being Amazing channels the energy and vibrancy of Holiday Fun and all of the families involved through colourful artworks and interactive creative and movement workshops for families and children.

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Welcome area at Firstsite. 'Big Hello' (2018) Peter Liversidge. Photo by Jayne Lloyd.

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