Big changes ahead at Cass Sculpture Foundation

Clare Hindle

Clare Hindle

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Exciting times lie ahead as Cass Sculpture Foundation – formerly Sculpture at Goodwood – tells the world “We are open for visitors!”

Recent months have seen a change in emphasis at the organisation, as executive director Clare Hindle explains. After years of being content to be quietly hidden away as it pursues its mission, Cass Sculpture Foundation now very much wants that mission to happen in public.

It is moving towards all-year-round opening, in the hope of doubling current visitor numbers from 10,000 to 20,000.

Cass Sculpture Foundation was founded in 1992 by Wilfred and Jeannette Cass who are still active founders and trustees. Their mission was to provide support for artists to achieve new levels of ambition through a pioneering not-for-profit organisation that inspires, enables and presents the output of some of the most important figures in contemporary sculpture.

And that remains the case and always will, says Clare.

But now 92-year-old Wilfred and his wife have taken a back seat from the day-to-day running, the foundation will open to the public in a way it has never done before – all part of ensuring Wilfred’s work lives on.

The organisation is currently seeking museum accreditation, as Clare explains: “The hope is that this will be here for perpetuity. I want to uphold the legacy of supporting artists to produce large-scale sculptures. But that’s a market which is feast or famine. Some years are great, and some years are very quiet. For a small organisation, that’s fine. You can have quiet years and buoyant years. But in order to be sustainable, I believe that we need to have museum accreditation.”

There are three areas in which they need to convince. The first is organisational health: “It means that we should be the same level as say, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and that everything is public.

“We also have to look at collection management. We have got two collections. We have got a fantastic collection of maquettes and works on paper. We have had more than 400 sculptures through the gates, and there is also a tremendous correspondence between Wilfred and really famous sculptors. At the moment, that is all locked away in the woods. I want to make sure that everyone can draw on it. We also have the permanent collection which is all the large-scale sculptures that are there for public appreciation. Unlike a lot of museums, we have an ever-changing display.

“The other thing we need to do is audience development. It’s looking at all of our stakeholders and ensuring that we are using our mission and developing outputs that put us on the map and engage with everybody.

Towards that end, for the first time the foundation will be taking part in the Festival of Chichester this year. Clare is also developing themed trails – all part of the changes afoot: “This is Wilfred and Jeannette’s home, and this is their back garden. And there is a magical feeling when you are alone among the sculptures and not surrounded by people, and they don’t want thousands and thousands of people. But it all goes hand in hand, and the fact is that we need to have people in order to keep everything alive and really engage with everyone.”

The organisation is past the half-way mark in terms of the work it needs to do for accreditation. They will make the final application in October this year, hoping to get an answer by the middle of next year.

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