Downing Street celebrates Visual Arts to mark 20 Years of Frieze London

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer will today champion the arts at Number 10 Downing Street to mark the 20th anniversary of the groundbreaking Frieze London Art Fair. 

  • A day of events championing the visual arts to be held at Number 10 Downing Street
  • Comes as Frieze London Art Fair turns 20 years old
  • Events to focus on providing pathways into the arts for young people and supporting regional museums

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer will today champion the arts at Number 10 Downing Street to mark the 20th anniversary of the groundbreaking Frieze London Art Fair. 

The event demonstrates the government’s support for the visual arts as a key part of the success of the wider arts sector as a major contributor to the UK economy. The UK is the second largest art market in the world, just behind the US with 18% of sales globally.  It is larger than the rest of Europe combined.

The arts are an important part of our thriving creative industries, which were worth £108 billion to the economy in 2021 and supported over two million jobs across the country last year. The creative industries were recognised as a priority growth sector by the Chancellor and in June the Department for Culture, Media and Sport published the Creative Industries Sector Vision, which sets out how the Government will work together with industry to support growth and prosperity. 

Also attending the event will be Minister for Arts and Heritage Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay, British art market leaders and representatives from art galleries and museums across the UK. 

The full day of events at Downing Street will start with an award ceremony in the morning unveiling a new print commissioned for the Robson Orr TenTen Award 2023 by the Government Art Collection, hosted by Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay. 

The Robson Orr TenTen Award is a ten-year scheme, which commissions a unique limited edition print by a leading British artist each year. Fifteen editions are gifted to the Government Art Collection to put on display in UK government buildings around the world while the sale of eleven editions help raise funds for the Government Art Collection to support emerging British artists and those currently underrepresented in the Collection. The award is presented by the Government Art Collection with Outset Contemporary Art Fund and sponsored by leading philanthropists Sybil Robson Orr and Matthew Orr.

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said:

We are in a golden age for British arts and culture and the government will do all we can to continue to maximise the potential of our creative industries, which boasts talent the length and breadth of the UK.

The Robson Orr TenTen Award is a fantastic initiative that gives a platform to this talent, providing much-needed opportunities for underrepresented artists.

Later in the day, a Youth Leaders Networking Lunch will take place in the State Dining Room at Number 10 to highlight innovative programmes across the UK that support young people in the arts. Discussions at the lunch will centre on creating pathways for under-represented groups and providing opportunities for young leaders to meet and share experiences. 

Attendees at the lunch include renowned artist Alvaro Barrington and young people who collaborated with him on designing a community basketball court in Bethnal Green, that was then represented in his work Change the Game, Frieze (2022), recently acquired by the Government Art Collection. 

Arts and Heritage Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay will also host a roundtable together with the Government Art Collection and Contemporary Art Society to highlight the Contemporary Art Society’s work with the Collections Fund at Frieze, acquiring major new works at Frieze London for regional collections in the UK. Recipients of the fund over the past seven years, including the Fitzwilliam Museum, will discuss the positive impact of the scheme on their collections and local communities. 

Arts and Heritage Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said: 

The UK is a world leader in the arts and it is vital that we continue to provide access to culture and creative opportunities for everyone – as our Creative Industries Sector Vision and our work on a new Cultural Education Plan will do.

I look forward to meeting cultural leaders from around the country to discuss the great work they are doing to develop collections around the UK, ensuring people have access to world-class culture on their doorstep no matter where they live.


Notes to editors: 

  • The Prime Minister will host an evening reception together with leaders of the UK art sector.  Around the famous door of Number 10 Downing Street will be a neon installation by Chila Kumari Burman MBE, as a testament to the talent of our visual arts sector in the UK.  
  • As one of the world’s most influential contemporary art fairs, which focuses on living artists and innovative practice, the Frieze London Art Fair is an iconic part of this success.
  • Frieze London and Frieze Masters take place each October in The Regent’s Park. 
  • Twenty years after its foundation by Matthew Slotover and Amanda Sharp in 2003, the fair has since expanded around the world with annual fairs not just in London but Los Angeles, New York and Seoul. 
  • Statistics on the UK art market are taken from this 2023 report from Art Basel and UBS: Dr Clare McAndrew, THE ART MARKET 2023 A report by Art Basel & UBS

Background on the Government Art Collection 

  • The Government Art Collection, established in 1899, is a national collection of historic, modern and contemporary British art that is displayed in government buildings in the UK and around the world. These locations include 10 & 11 Downing Street, government departments and residences and offices of British Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Consuls-General in over 125 countries worldwide. 
  • The works are seen by thousands of visitors, promoting British art internationally and contributing to cultural diplomacy. We actively seek ways to widen engagement with Government Art Collection works with non-government audiences through partnerships and by participating in local, national and international events.
Published 10 October 2023

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