THE director of Middlesbrough’s flagship modern art gallery is to step down after nearly five years at the helm.

mima director Kate Brindley has been appointed as interim director at the Arnolfini Centre for the Contemporary Arts in Bristol and she is relocating to be with her family, who are based in the South-West.

Ms Brindley took over at mima from founding director Godrey Worsdale in July 2009 and during her time has seen a 16 per cent increase in mima’s funding from Arts Council England, enabling the gallery to maintain its programme and develop its collection.

The gallery, which celebrated its seventh birthday last month, has attracted nearly one million visitors and played host to works by some of biggest names in the art world including David Hockney, Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Gerhard Richter, Anish Kapoor and Carl Andre. The current show by local artist William Tillyer is one of its most successful to date.

Last November Middlesbrough Council and Teesside University announced the formation of a new partnership to further develop mima’s role in the town.

Teesside University will be taking over the day-to-day running of mima, with the Council retaining its involvement as a main funding partner alongside Arts Council England.

Kate, who was previously Director of Museums, Galleries and Archives for Bristol City Council, said: “It has been a privilege and a pleasure to work with colleagues at mima. The partnership with Teesside University will allow mima to continue to flourish for years to come.

“I am very proud of the work I have done in preparing for this next step and I want to wish all those involved the greatest success for the future.”

Middlesbrough Mayor Ray Mallon said: “mima has firmly established itself not just as a gallery but as a brand of international standing, and over the last five years Kate has played a key role in that process.

Ms Brindley will leave mima at the end of March and a successor will be appointed in due course.