Change of leadership at the National Gallery

The National Gallery’s director, Nancy Barnard, steps down this month having announced her intention to retire from the position late last year.

Mrs. Barnard will be succeeded by Deputy Director Natalie Coleman, an accomplished curator and arts administrator with a specialty in Caymanian art who has worked at the Gallery since 2002.

The appointment, effective 27 March, was approved in a unanimous vote by the Gallery’s management board who expect a seamless transition, given Ms Coleman’s longstanding commitment to the organisation.

Ms Coleman has more than 10 years experience in arts education, exhibition curation and gallery management. She holds a degree in Art History and a first-class Masters in Arts Policy and Administration with a specialisation in contemporary curating.

Ms Coleman also gained professional experience while interning at the renowned British Museum and the Institute of International Visual Arts in the United Kingdom.

During her tenure at the National Gallery, Ms Coleman served initially as the Gallery’s education officer and subsequently focused on the curation of exhibitions, press and marketing and programme development, before being promoted to the position of deputy director in 2004.

Ms Coleman’s commitment to the local arts scene extends beyond the National Gallery and includes serving as a past board member of the Visual Arts Society and as a cultural advisor to the Cayman Islands Government. She has published a range of essays relating to Caymanian arts and heritage and in 2008 formed a not-for-profit arts administration group called Cayman Contemporary Arts Initiative (CCAI) that provides free arts education relating to portfolio development, arts marketing and grant proposal writing for emerging Cayman-based artists.

In accepting the position, Ms Coleman commented: ‘I am deeply honoured that the board has selected me as the director of this respected organisation, one that is at the forefront of Caymanian art and arts education.

‘I am committed to lead the Gallery wisely and productively during the coming years, and to build on the Gallery’s already strong and diverse programming schedule. I look forward to continuing to promote and develop innovative art practice and to work with artists, curators and writers within the contemporary Caymanian arts scene and beyond to create opportunities for dialogue, collaboration and the exchange of ideas.’

Having picked up the mantle from founding director Leslie Bigelman, Mrs. Barnard has worked full time with the Gallery for nine years, first as assistant director and then, for the past five, as director.

During this time, she has worked passionately to promote art in the Cayman Islands, particularly in the areas of education and outreach.

Mrs. Barnard’s substantial credits include starting Art Magnet, the first of the National Gallery’s nine outreach programmes, campaigning tirelessly to increase arts education in schools and for tertiary-level arts education, establishing the National Gallery’s Sister Islands position along with the thriving scholarship and internship programmes offered in conjunction with Deutsche Bank, curating exhibitions and developing National Gallery corporate partnerships, the funding from which has allowed the Gallery’s activities to grow substantially.

Working with the National Gallery’s Fundraising Committee Chairman Desmond Kinch, Mrs. Barnard was also responsible for re-igniting the organisation’s building drive and leading the fundraising efforts to reach more than $2 million to date.

Mrs. Barnard is departing her current position to focus on arts fundraising and to start several arts-based initiatives, including the Cayman Art Start courses she has developed for children. She will teach the first for-credit tertiary art course at UCCI, and begin an art consultant and art appraisal service for companies and local artists.

Mrs. Barnard looks forward to the flexibility of part-time work that will allow her to spend more time with her two young children, Luke and Jade.

‘I am looking forward to this next chapter of my career and to the work-life balance it will afford,’ said Mrs. Barnard. ‘The Gallery will be in excellent hands with Natalie: she has been absolutely outstanding both as a Gallery manager and curator. We are very fortunate that we have her to lead the Gallery from now on.’

The Gallery board and staff thanks Mrs. Barnard for all that she has done for the organisation and the promotion and development of the local arts scene.

‘Nancy has been a supportive colleague throughout the years, one who has always taken a responsive and committed approach to the development of the arts in Cayman,’ said Ms Coleman.

‘I speak for all of us within the organisation in offering our warmest wishes for her new venture and look forward to continuing to work with her in promoting and supporting the arts in the Cayman Islands.’