London’s Tate Britain museum revealed on Tuesday that it would not award its prestigious Turner Prize as usual because of the coronavirus pandemic and the ways it has dramatically altered the activities of artist and museums around the world.
The prize, which typically awards a top British artist with £25,000 ($30,900), will be replaced by a series of £10,000 ($12,300) grants that Tate is terming Turner Bursaries. Ten artists will be selected to receive the grants at the end of June by a jury that includes Richard Birkett, curator at large at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Sarah Munro, director of BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, England; Fatoş Üstek, director of the Liverpool Biennial; and designer and curator Duro Olowu.
“Gallery closures and social distancing measures are vitally important, but they are also causing huge disruption to the lives and livelihoods of artists,” Alex Farquharson, director of Tate Britain and the chair of the Turner Prize jury, said in a statement. “The practicalities of organizing 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.”
The award’s major shift marks the second year in a row that the Turner Prize hasn’t been designated as planned. Last year, the reward was shared among its four nominees—Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock, Oscar Murillo, and Tai Shani—who collectively called for the purse to be split as an expression of solidarity amid political upheaval.