The Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing has been sold to a group of Chinese investors led by Lunar Capital, a private equity group in Shanghai, Enid Tsui of the South China Morning Post reports. The future of the institution has been uncertain ever since collector and founder Guy Ullens announced in June 2016 that he and his wife, Myriam Ullens, were looking to hand over the reins to new owners. They also revealed they would be selling their art collection of more than two thousand works.
Director Philip Tinari, who joined UCCA in 2011, will continue to run the center, which will become a nonprofit organization. “The old model had worked under Mr. Ullens’s generosity but he had set it up in 2007 as a private company. Now that the public-facing activities are run by a charity, we will be able to raise funds more easily and hopefully improve the production quality of our exhibitions and the size of the audience,” Tinari said.
Among the investors who purchased the arts space are Future Edutainment, an education business, and Jason Jiang, the Chinese billionaire who established the advertising company Focus Media. Members of UCCA’s board of directors have yet to be announced.
Currently, the center, which welcomes around one million people each year, is able to self-fund eighty percent of its annual operations budget (roughly $6 million) through businesses launched several years ago, such as retailers and children’s arts programs. While the initiatives will be run separately from the foundation, they will still help to support the nonprofit as they are required to pay royalties to use the UCCA brand.
The center’s campus, comprising four main exhibition spaces, will soon undergo a major renovation. It is scheduled to reopen in the summer of 2018 with an exhibition of works by Xu Bing.