ANDREW Nairne is standing down as director of Modern Art Oxford after seven years.

Mr Nairne is leaving to become an executive director at Arts Council England, responsible for arts strategy.

He will take up his new position in September.

During his time at MAO, he has brought major exhibitions to Oxford by artists such as Tracey Emin and the Chapman brothers.

Recently he oversaw Oxford Open, which attracted work from hundreds of local artists.

Mr Nairne said: "I will be very sad to leave. The management team is outstanding and I am grateful to the many artists, individuals and organisations in Oxford, the region, nationally and internationally whom I have been fortunate enough to work with.

"I am especially proud of the quality of our exhibition programme and of our recently established creative partnerships with three local schools and with the community of Rose Hill."

In the period until a new director takes up post, Suzanne Cotter, deputy director and senior curator, will be acting director.

David Isaac, chairman of MAO, said: "As well as maintaining an outstanding national and international programme, he has reminded Oxford how important the visual arts are in building successful communities."