Press Release: Contemporary Art Society announces new Director

4 August 2013 By
Caroline Douglas, Director, Contemporary Art Society

6 August 2013

The Contemporary Art Society is pleased to announce that Caroline Douglas has been appointed to lead the Contemporary Art Society as Director from October 2013. Caroline joins the Contemporary Art Society from the Arts Council, where she has been Head of the Arts Council Collection since 2006. With over 20 years of experience in contemporary art, Caroline has made a significant impact in documenting the development of contemporary art collection, securing key acquisitions by important artists including Jeremy Deller, Gary Hume, Wolfgang Tillmans and Grayson Perry, as well as providing advocacy and support for more emerging talent.

Mark Stephens CBE, Chairman of the Contemporary Art Society, said:“On behalf of the Contemporary Art Society and its Board of Trustees, we are absolutely thrilled that Caroline Douglas has agreed to join us as Director at such a pivotal time for the Contemporary Art Society, a year on from the launch of our new public programme and our first ever permanent exhibition space. Caroline will look to further consolidate the profile of the Contemporary Art Society as the leading organisation for collecting contemporary art in the UK.  She brings with her a quite outstanding track record in developing contemporary collections in addition to curating exhibitions for the benefit of public audiences, which is at the heart of the Contemporary Art Society’s mission.
For over 100 years, the Contemporary Art Society has worked to encourage philanthropy and an appreciation and understanding of contemporary art across the UK and has gifted over 8000 works of art to museums and public galleries up and down the country during that time. Our expertise in developing public collections stems from our unparalleled networks of supporters, including patrons, artists, curators and collectors, and this is an area that Caroline will further enhance.”

Caroline Douglas said: “I am delighted to be joining the Contemporary Art Society at this exciting moment just a year after it moved to a new permanent home in London.  The Contemporary Art Society has a distinguished history in Britain, and has played a crucial role here, supporting public institutions around the country in acquiring great contemporary art.  At a time of significant art cuts it is essential that the Contemporary Art Society continues its work for the benefit of audiences everywhere. The Contemporary Art Society has been expert in bringing private philanthropy to the support of cherished public collections since 1910, and that mission has never looked more critical than it does in 2013. I look forward to making a contribution to that mission in years to come.”

Grayson Perry CBE, artist supporter of the Contemporary Art Society said: “My art practice is entirely dependent on seeing great collections. I make no pretence of originality, only an ability to copy using a lens distorted by my own time and biography. To then see my works placed amongst those that have seeded my imagination is a great thrill and I hope that my art germinates new work in the minds of other artists. I can think of no better candidate to lead the Contemporary Art Society and ensure that the best new work enters public collections regionally.” 

Bridget Riley CH CBE, artist supporter of the Contemporary Art Society said:
“Congratulations are due to the Contemporary Art Society for its choice of Caroline Douglas as the new Director. She understands well the importance of our regional museums and the needs of the present to relate to the past”.

Sir Peter Bazalgette, Chairman of Arts Council England, said: “Over seven years Caroline has enriched and diversified the Arts Council Collection, forging strong links with important artists as well as galleries and sponsors. She’s maximised public access to the art via display, publication and online. We’ll miss her – it’s a shrewd appointment by the Contemporary Art Society.”

For all press enquiries, contact:
Jenny Prytherch, Communications Manager
+44 (0)20 7017 8412


Notes to Editors:


The Contemporary Art Society is a national charity that encourages an appreciation and understanding of contemporary art in the UK. With the help of our members and supporters we raise funds to purchase works by new artists which we give to museums and public galleries where they are enjoyed by a national audience; we broker significant and rare works of art by important artists of the twentieth century for public collections through our networks of patrons and private collectors; we establish relationships to commission artworks and promote contemporary art in public spaces; and we devise programmes of displays, artist talks and educational events. Since 1910 we have donated over 8,000 works to museums and public galleries – from Bacon, Freud, Hepworth and Moore in their day through to the influential artists of our own times – championing new talent, supporting curators, and encouraging philanthropy and collecting in the UK.

Key facts about Contemporary Art Society:

  • 1917 The Contemporary Art Society gave the first Paul Gauguin,Tahitians (circa 1891)
  • 1933 Pablo PicassoFlowers (1901) is gifted to Tate, it was the first work by Picasso to be acquired by Tate
  • 1946 The first work by Francis Bacon is purchased, Figure Study II
  • 1988 Mark WallingerLost Horizon (1986), gifted to The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent
  • 1992 Damien HirstForms Without Life (1991) – first Hirst to be donated to Tate
  • This year (2013-4) the Contemporary Art Society expects to place art worth in excess of £4million in public collections across the UK with the support of our patrons and other stakeholders

Current and forthcoming displays at Contemporary Art Society, 59 Central Street:

  • David Hockney 5 JUNE – 16 AUGUST
  • PROJECT 03: Data 5 JULY – 27 SEPTEMBER
  • John Stezaker 4 SEPTEMBER – 4 OCTOBER
  • The Eric & Jean Cass Gift 16 OCTOBER – 22 NOVEMBER
  • Laure Prouvost 4 DECEMBER – 17 JANUARY


Mark Stephens, CBE, an avid collector and son of a fine artist, joined the Board of the Contemporary Art Society in 1991 and was Vice Chair to Alison Myners before becoming Chair in 2010.  As a senior partner at Finers Stephens Innocent, he has undertaken some of the highest profile cases in cultural property law and litigation.  He is regularly in the media, often appearing on TV & radio.  Mark is also Chair of the Design and Artists Copyright Society.


Caroline Douglas has been Head of the Arts Council Collection since 2006.  In that time she has secured notable gifts for the Collection including work by Wolfgang Tillmans, Gary Hume, Roger Hiorns, Grayson Perry, Anthony McCall, Martin Creed, David Batchelor, Bridget Riley and John Stezaker.  Furthermore Caroline has organised a number of exhibitions for the Arts Council across the UK including that of Roger Hiorns Seizure at Yorkshire Sculpture Park 2011-13.  Douglas has developed new partnerships for the Arts Council including those with the National Trust and Christie’s.  Prior to the Arts Council, Douglas was a curator at the British Council from 1994 to 2006 and holds an M.A from the Courtauld.