FIRSTSITE is in the running to win a £100,000 national arts prize for its work raising the profile of female artists.

The gallery has been shortlisted for the Freelands Award, which was established in 2016 by Elizabeth Murdoch to support the work of cultural institutions across the UK.

A total of £100,000 is up for grabs for the winner with £25,000 to go directly to a female artist as chosen by the winning organisation.

Firstsite director Sally Shaw said: “We are thrilled to be shortlisted for this incredible award and recognised by Freelands Foundation as one of the leading art organisations in the UK alongside our fellow nominees.

“Colchester has a radical history in relation to equality.

“Firstsite continues this legacy through its work celebrating women and female artists, such as co-commissioning Gillian Wearing to create her Millicent Fawcett statue for Parliament Square.

“We would be delighted to receive the opportunity, through this award, to support another female artist to create an extraordinary artwork which can be enjoyed by all in Firstsite’s fun and inclusive environment.”

If the gallery is successful, Firstsite could use the cash to bring a new female-led project to fruition at the Lewis Gardens site.

It is competing against five other organisations across the country - The Hepworth Wakefield, John Hansard Gallery, The MAC, MK Gallery and Towner Art Gallery.

The winner of the Freelands Awards will be announced this autumn.

Last month was a busy period for Firstsite as it welcomed both its millionth visitor and its new chairman, former BBC arts correspondent Rosie Millard.

Elisabeth Murdoch is a Tate trustee and philanthropist who set up the Freelands Foundation, which runs the award.

To find out what’s on at the gallery, visit