Creative Director / Side Gallery Curator

Closing date:

Amber CIC

Amber is looking for a dynamic and highly motivated self-starter with a passion for documentary photography and an innovative approach to curatorial practices to join the Side Gallery team as Curator and Creative Director. This role offers the opportunity to contribute to the growth and reputation of an established and internationally renowned photographic gallery.

The Curator will drive Side Gallery’s direction and exhibition programme, contributing to the growth and reputation of its internationally renowned photographic gallery.

As Curator and Creative Director, you will be the driving force behind the venue’s direction and exhibition programme. Your role will encompass diverse responsibilities, from conducting in-depth research and collaborating with the Curatorial Advisory Group to curate compelling bodies of work for display to planning, developing, and executing the annual exhibition programme. Your expertise will also be pivotal in developing and managing captivating touring exhibitions, expanding the gallery’s reach beyond our local community — and as line manager and mentor to a Curatorial Assistant, you will play a crucial role in fostering emerging curatorial talent from underrepresented backgrounds.

Key Responsibilities

Research and exhibition planning

  • Engage with the curatorial advisory group to brainstorm, research, and develop potential exhibition ideas and concepts.
  • Collaborate with the advisory group to refine exhibition proposals, ensuring alignment with the gallery’s artistic goals and audience engagement strategies.
  • Develop a clear vision and curatorial narrative for each exhibition, considering how it complements the annual exhibition program and contributes to the gallery’s overall mission.
  • Support the Managing Director to research and investigate alternative exhibition and/or venue spaces.

Annual exhibition programmes (funding dependent)

  • Work with the gallery team to plan, develop, and deliver the annual exhibition programs, ensuring a diverse range of documentary photography exhibitions.
  • Undertake the preparation and organisation of all exhibitions, including scheduling, artwork selection, and thematic coherence.
  • Collaborate with the gallery assistant, manager, and front-of-house staff to effectively promote and publicise exhibitions.
  • Engage with the curatorial advisory group to brainstorm, research, and develop potential exhibition ideas and concepts.
  • Collaborate with the advisory group to refine exhibition proposals, ensuring alignment with Side’s artistic goals and audience engagement strategies.

Curatorial auditing of the AmberSide permanent collection

  • Conduct a comprehensive audit of the AmberSide permanent collection to assess its content, condition, and relevance to the gallery’s mission.
  • Identify strengths, gaps, and potential areas for improvement within the collection, making recommendations for future acquisitions.

AmberSide collection exhibition development:

  • Conceptualise and develop captivating venue and touring exhibitions from the AmberSide Collection that align with Side Photography Gallery’s artistic vision.
  • Conduct thorough research on potential exhibition themes and relevant contemporary documentary photography trends.
  • Plan and oversee logistical aspects of touring exhibitions, including exhibition design, artwork transport, display considerations, and installation procedures.

Artwork acquisition and loans:

  • Actively participate in the acquisition process in consultation with the Board of Directors and acquisitions committee.
  • Coordinate loan agreements with other institutions, artists, and private collectors, ensuring compliance with legal and ethical artwork handling guidelines.

Artwork conservation and preservation:

  • Collaborate with the AmberSide Archivist to ensure proper care and preservation of prints in the AmberSide permanent collection and touring exhibitions.

Public engagement and education:

  • Organise and conduct public programmes, lectures, workshops, and tours related to the gallery’s exhibitions and permanent collections (Funding dependent)
  • Foster relationships with photographers, donors, collectors, and stakeholders to create a vibrant artistic community.

Budget management:

  • Assist the Finance & Operations Manager in budget planning and management for the curatorial department, ensuring efficient allocation of financial resources.

Image preparation and exhibition installation:

  • Undertake exhibition preparation, including mounting, framing, and ensuring artworks are exhibition-ready.
  • Lead exhibition installation, coordinating with gallery staff and external contractors for impactful presentations.

Writing skills for exhibition interpretation:

  • Use excellent writing skills to draft press releases, exhibition-related articles, and promotional materials.
  • Prepare clear and engaging text panels and interpretive materials to enhance visitors’ understanding of photographic narratives.

Key objectives

Objective 1
Curatorial Excellence: Curate a diverse range of documentary photography exhibitions annually, maintaining a high standard of artistic excellence and aligning with the gallery’s mission and goals

Objective 2
Audience Engagement: Increase audience engagement by developing and implementing strategies that attract a broader and more diverse audience to Side Gallery. This includes innovative exhibition concepts, public programmes, and digital initiatives.

Objective 3
Mentorship Impact: Successfully mentor and guide the curatorial assistant to ensure their professional development, providing them with opportunities for hands-on experience and exposure to real-world curatorial challenges

Measures of success

  1. Attainment of positive critical reviews and industry recognition for curated exhibitions, showcasing the curator’s ability to curate compelling and impactful shows.
  2. Significant increase in the gallery’s attendance and engagement metrics, demonstrating the curator’s success in attracting and diversifying the audience. (Funding dependent)
  3. Recognition and accomplishments of the mentored trainee curator (Funding dependent), indicating the effectiveness of the curator’s guidance in fostering emerging talent.
  4. Successful additions to the AmberSide permanent collection based on the curator’s recommendations, enriching the artistic and historical value of the gallery’s holdings.
  5. Successful collaborations with photographers, donors, and stakeholders, contributing to the development of a vibrant artistic community around the gallery and establishing meaningful partnerships.

Qualifications and skills

  • Postgraduate degree in Curatorial Studies, Art Museum & Gallery Studies, or a related field or equivalent experience.
  • Demonstrated expertise in documentary photography.
  • Track record of innovative and creative curatorial approaches.
  • Strong research and critical analysis skills.
  • Advanced writing skills.
  • Experience in planning and executing an annual exhibition programme.


  • Project management
  • Communication and interpersonal skills
  • Strong productive relationships with artists / photographers
  • Leadership
  • Research and critical analysis
  • Budget management

Performance will be assessed annually through a formal performance review process. Regular check-ins and feedback sessions will also be conducted to ensure ongoing professional development.

Career development opportunities

Opportunities for career growth within the organisation include potential advancement to higher leadership roles or specialised positions within the curatorial and creative fields.

Budget £36,000 p.a. (FT, 12 months fixed-term)

Deadline 15 July 2024

5 – 9 Side Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 3JE

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Interested candidates should submit their CV and a detailed covering letter addressing their suitability for the position to Laura Laffler with ‘Creative Director’ in the subject line. 

Applicants can expect the hiring process to include multiple interview rounds and potential assessments. The expected timeline for the hiring process will be communicated to shortlisted candidates.

Amber Film and Photography Collective CIC is an equal opportunity employer committed to diversity and inclusion.



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