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Column: Arts Council England statement

16 April 2013

Arts Council England regrets to announce - as the funder of the Artists taking the lead (ATTL) programme - that the North West ATTL Column project will not be completed.

Arts Council Executive Director Laura Dyer said:

“Arts Council England is very sad that Column will not be completed and we are sorry this news will disappoint people in the North West who were looking forward to seeing it.

"Of course it is very important to us that we manage the risks associated with our investment of taxpayers’ money. We have monitored the development of Column closely, but in a very small number of cases the price we pay for exciting ideas is that the risk doesn’t pay off.

"Whilst we aren’t complacent about Column, we should also see it in the context of our overall Olympic investment - nearly £40 million put into hundreds of successful events for the Cultural Olympiad that achieved 43 million attendances across the country, as well as our investment in the vibrant arts scene we have around us in Merseyside today."

Anthony McCall’s work is enjoyed by audiences all over the world and we share his and his team’s disappointment that on this occasion, his vision has not been realised. We would like to thank Anthony and his team for their unstinting efforts over three challenging years.”

Artist Anthony McCall said:

“It is with profound disappointment that we have decided to draw our project to a close. My team has worked long and hard but, due to the many regulatory and technical challenges, we have not been able to bring “Column” to completion. After more than three years of development this is desperately sad but I would like to say how grateful I am to Arts Council England for their unswerving commitment to the project. I would also like to thank the people of the Wirral and the North West for their support and enthusiasm."

Arts Council England remains committed to getting great art to everyone and would be happy to talk to arts organisations and community groups about other exciting artistic ideas they may have and that we could help to realise.


Notes to editors

Column was commissioned in 2009, as part of the national Artists taking the lead programme within the Cultural Olympiad, with an award of £500,000.

The Arts Council invested a total of £36.9 million in the Cultural Olympiad and the engagement figure across the whole of the Cultural Olympiad reached 43 million attendances.

While we know it’s disappointing that people on Merseyside didn’t get to see Column, the Arts Council has invested over £51 million in Merseyside since 2008/9 and there are loads of opportunities to experience lots of different arts and cultural experiences as a result

As a responsible funder, we have continued to carefully monitor Column and to liaise closely with the artist Anthony McCall and the Column team both to assess how the project was progressing but also to review its development needs.

One of the Arts Council’s aims is to promote the conditions in which the most talented artists can be their best and can take risks, thereby constantly redefining our understanding of what great art can be.

To find out more about Column visit

Contact information

Julie Leather
Julie Leather
Job Title
Arts Council England
0161 934 4464
Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2010 and 2015, we will invest £1.9 billion of public money from government and an estimated £1.1 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.