The Box appoints a Head of Contemporary Arts

Nigel Hurst, Head of Contemporary Arts for The Box

Nigel Hurst, Head of Contemporary Arts for The Box

As it builds towards its opening in 2020, The Box, Plymouth has appointed a new Head of Contemporary Arts to spearhead its ambitious visual arts programme.

Nigel Hurst comes to Plymouth after 23 years at the Saatchi Gallery in London, most recently as its Gallery Director and CEO. He will start work at The Box in early September.

During this time, he has led the growth of the gallery from 100,000 to over 1.5 million visitors, thanks to a high-profile programme and partnerships that put the focus on bringing contemporary art to the widest possible audience.

Nigel joined the Saatchi Gallery as a curator in 1995, working on ‘Sensation’ at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, the National Galerie at the Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin and the Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York.

More recently, he has led on exhibitions that focus on emerging art markets including ‘The Empire Strikes Back: Indian Art Today’ (2010), ‘The Silk Road’ in collaboration with the City of Lille, France (2011), ‘Korean Eye’ (2012), ‘Hong Kong Eye’ (2013), ‘Post Pop: East Meets West’ (2014), ‘Thailand Eye’ (2015), ‘UK/RAINE: Emerging Artists from the UK and Ukraine’ (2015) and ‘From Selfie to Self-Expression’ (2017).

He has also overseen a series of international touring exhibitions and collaborated on and co-produced exhibitions featuring contemporary design, fashion and music, including Hermès ‘Wanderland’ (2014), Chanel ‘Mademoiselle Prive’ (2015) and ‘Exhibitionism: The Rolling Stones’ (2016).

Tudor Evans, Leader for Plymouth City Council said: “Nigel’s appointment is a very welcome development for The Box and the city. We’re working to create a step-change in Plymouth’s visual arts provision and were looking for someone with exceptional experience who can produce innovative, high quality contemporary arts programmes. We were blown away by Nigel’s track record and his knowledge of Plymouth too.

Ian Bowyer, Shadow Leader for Plymouth City Council said: “Nigel’s going to be a great addition to the fantastic team that’s already in place at The Box. We’re excited to see what artists, exhibitions and partnerships he’ll bring to the impressive programme that’s being pulled together for 2020 and beyond.”

At The Box, which is transforming the Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery, former Central Library and St Luke’s Church buildings into a major cultural and heritage venue, Nigel will be responsible for leading the creative vision and development of the contemporary art programme, including exhibitions, artistic commissions, performance and events.

He will manage a team of staff that oversee contemporary and public art as well as nurturing and developing relationships with local, regional, national and international partners.

Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England, said: “This is fantastic news for The Box. Nigel’s appointment is excellent news for Plymouth and will change the game for the contemporary visual arts in the south west. Nigel’s appointment will help to deliver the city’s collective ambitions leading up to the transformation year of 2020, and further accelerate Plymouth’s reputation as one of England’s fastest emerging cultural destinations.”

Nigel Hurst said: “This role presents a wonderful opportunity to help build on Plymouth’s achievements to date in raising the profile of the city through this wonderful initiative, engaging new audiences, and developing the reputation of Plymouth as a cultural focal point, not only within the UK, but also as an important cultural place-maker with a growing international presence. I can’t wait to get started.”

To find out more about The Box and stay up-to-date with its development, visit