Engaging the wider world with sculpture

Godfrey Worsdale, Issue 119/05, 01.05.2019
The Henry Moore Grants programme is about to pass its £35m milestone 
In 1977, English sculptor Henry Moore and his family established the Henry Moore Foundation. Its intentions were relatively simple: it was concerned with the artist’s legacy but also with “the encouragement of the public appreciation of visual art”, particularly sculpture. Today, the foundation is the UK’s largest and its organisational model is regarded as an exemplar.

Moore would not have risen to be Britain’s most celebrated sculptor without the help and encouragement afforded by an inspirational secondary-school teacher, an ex-serviceman’s grant and the generosity of individuals who introduced him to great art and artists. Forty years on, with this generosity in mind, we’re placing an enhanced focus on engaging young people to learn about and enjoy the visual arts.

As a funding body and an organisation running venues in Leeds and Hertfordshire, the foundation is keenly aware of the challenges that the sector faces. This year, Henry Moore Grants will pass the £35m milestone; the support for institutions and individuals that do so much to engage audiences with sculpture is even more important in a time when resources are under growing pressure.

The range and geographical reach of the projects we support each year is difficult to summarise, and the introduction of our Exceptional Award is intended to celebrate the most successful projects within the Henry Moore Grants portfolio.

It also affords the recipient(s) an extra tranche of funding. The inaugural award was given to two institutions for magnificent exhibitions: Eduardo Paolozzi at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, and David Smith: The White Sculptures at Storm King Art Center, New York.

The foundation is increasingly making progress through partnerships. We work with Arts Council England, local authorities, universities, other trusts and foundations, corporate partners and, of course, other galleries. One project that includes all of these relationships is Yorkshire Sculpture International, a festival taking place across Leeds and Wakefield this summer.

As well as building on the legacy of Moore and English sculptor Barbara Hepworth, the project will bring artists from all over the world to the region and provide a platform for some of the remarkable emerging artists working in the area.

I am proud to be part of an organisation that has enabled so many people to engage with sculpture in such a variety of contexts. At the same time, the organisation is in a position to act independently and be responsive to the times in which we live. We have recently created a learning and engagement function at the Henry Moore Institute, which will build on our existing links with higher education.

Godfrey Worsdale is the director of the Henry Moore Foundation