Written evidence submitted by the Art
Fund (arts 195)
1. The Art Fund is the UK's national fundraising
charity for works of art. We give grants of more than £4
million each year to enable museums and galleries to buy works
of art. We don't receive government funding; our 80,000 members
and 600 volunteers across the country make our work possible.
We believe that everyone should have access to great art and that
by bringing together the contributions of our members and supporters,
we can all play a part in enriching the range, quality and understanding
of art for all to experience.
2. We work closely with the bodies overseeing,
representing and helping to fund the arts and heritage sector,
including the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS),
the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) and the Heritage
Lottery Fund (HLF).
3. We will restrict our comments to the
most relevant areas of the Committee's inquiry, with a particular
focus on the museum and gallery sector. The terms "museum"
and "museums" are used to denote both museums and galleries.
4. Museums are a valuable and unique resource,
providing knowledge and inspiration while connecting people and
communities. They attract audiences from home and abroad, and
our major institutions showcase the best of UK culture and heritage
to the rest of the world. In recent years many museums have reinvented
themselves: using a base of public funding they have been able
to generate substantial private investment to rebuild, remain
relevant and become truly outstanding. At the same time they have
become increasingly popular: over 50% of UK museums saw an increase
in visits during 2009.
46.7% of adults now visit a museum, gallery or archive and over
three quarters (75.7%) engage with the arts.
5. The proposed cuts to public spending
are likely to have a significant impact on museums across the
UK. National museums and galleries receive grant-in-aid directly
from central government, which on average accounts for almost
50% of a museums funding.
The rest is raised commercially, or from charitable sources or
private individuals. National museums received a 3% cut in funding
for this year and have been asked to model cuts to their public
funding of 25-40% to 2014-15. National museums use public money
to generate £240 million of additional funding, and the planned
cuts could severely hamper their efforts to lever money from other
6. The proposed cuts could impact on several
fronts, but `additional services' such as education and outreach
programmes, which have grown in size and scope in recent years,
will be particularly vulnerable. Additionally the "blockbuster"
exhibitions we have become used to may be threatened on two frontsas
less money is available within the museum, and as private sector
sponsorship becomes more difficult to attract. The policy of free
admission to national museums and galleries will be increasingly
difficult to maintain. It has been an astounding success, acting
as a major boost for tourism and doubling the number of visitors
since it was introduced in 2001, but even before the planned cuts
are made, government grant-in-aid fails to compensate for the
high costs involved. It would be a real backwards step if museums
were forced to bring back entry charges in some form, especially
as we approach the tenth anniversary of the policy's introduction.
7. We are particularly concerned that cuts
may be directed at curatorial posts and acquisition budgets. When
faced with the choice between keeping the lights on and buying
new objects, the decision seems easy. But expert curators with
the resources and knowledge to buy, display and interpret new
objects are vital to the medium- and long-term health and appeal
of a museum, enabling it to fulfil its core functions of caring
for, researching and developing collections. Our last "Collecting
Challenge" research, which explored museum collecting activity
2005-10, found that curatorial posts and skills are under threat
in 20% of museums, and 50% are unable to allocate any money to
new acquisitions. New acquisitions bring in new and repeat visitors,
and once a museum gets out of the habit of collecting, it is very
difficult to start again. We would urge museums not to sacrifice
curatorship, scholarship and the strategic development of the
permanent collection in order to make short-term savings, and
public funders to recognise that the long-term health of these
institutions depends on the quality of the collection and the
depth of knowledge lying behind its presentation to the public.
8. The National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF)
is an important source of funding for museums and galleries wanting
to acquire significant heritage treasures. Known as the government's
"fund of last resort" for heritage items at risk, it
has worked with the Art Fund consistently over the years to help
acquire such works as the Vale of York Hoard, Ruben's Multiple
Sketch for the Banqueting House Ceiling for Tate, and Dumfries
House and its contents. It currently has £10 million a year
to spend: a woefully inadequate sum, especially as we know of
so many magnificent treasures coming up for sale, including the
sister painting to Diana and Actaeon, Titian's Diana and Callisto,
in 2012. While we understand the pressures in the public purse,
we urge the government to retain the NHMF budget at £10 million,
and to increase this when finances allow.
9. Following the decision to abolish the
MLA from April 2012, we need to ensure that our museums continue
to be properly resourced and supported. The MLA administers a
number of important programmes, including Renaissance in the Regions
and export controls for works of art. Arts Council England (ACE)
would be well-placed to oversee several functions including the
Renaissance in the Regions scheme, although we would strongly
recommend that museums form a distinct branch of ACE activity,
rather than being absorbed into a broader department structure.
10. It would be logical to transfer responsibility
for the export control system and the Acceptance in Lieu scheme
(which enables individuals to transfer artworks into public ownership
in lieu of paying inheritance tax owed) to the DCMS.
11. A number of local authority-owned museums
share space or resources in order to reduce cost and maximise
economies of scale. Tyne and Wear Museums and Beamish, the open
air museum, operate a joint storage facility on the Beamish site;
and Aberdeen City Council is one of many currently looking to
build an integrated museums store, to house the reserve collections
of all its museum sites.
12. This seems a sensible approach and one
that could be taken further. Where possible, museums should be
encouraged to work across local authority boundaries to share
resources or merge back-office functions, for example storage
space, human resources or transport costs. National museums should
be encouraged to do the same, to reduce costs and increase efficiency.
13. Museums should also be encouraged to
share their collections and to make more joint-acquisitions. Museums
have traditionally viewed their permanent collections in isolation,
rather than as part of a shared national collection. The Art Fund
has helped several museums to work together to acquire objects
in recent years, including the Staffordshire Hoard (for museums
in the Midlands), Willie Doherty's Buried for the Imperial War
Museum and Wolverhampton Art Gallery; and Titian's Diana and Actaeon
for the National Gallery, London and National Galleries of Scotland.
We are also currently sponsoring the UK-wide touring exhibition
of ARTIST ROOMS, the collection of modern and contemporary art
acquired for the nation from dealer Anthony d'Offay, so that the
collection is used to its fullest potential. We always encourage
museums to consider working in partnership to acquire and share
14. In the last 15 years Lottery money,
allocated through the HLF, has helped to transform museums and
galleries across the UK. HLF income has declined in the last few
years following the creation of the Big Lottery Fund and as Lottery
money is diverted to help fund the 2012 Olympics. The government
proposes to restore the proportion of Lottery funding the HLF
receives back to its original 20%, which will mean an additional
£50 million a year. We welcome this, especially at a time
when public funding to museums and galleries is being so severely
15. To further boost income to the Lottery
distributors, the government should also introduce a new Gross
Profits Tax regime which would allow the Lottery operator (Camelot)
to pay tax after prizes have been paid to players, rather than
before. This change would allow the operator to increase prize
payouts on Lottery games and stimulate sales; generating an extra
estimated £270 million for good causes over 10 years.
16. As the funding available is to change,
we would welcome a review of policy guidelines for Lottery distributors.
In particular we believe HLF support for acquisitions is severely
inadequate: last year less than 1% of its budget went to help
museums collect, down from a peak of 10% in 1995-96.
We would welcome the opportunity to make the case for additional
support in this area.
17. If state funding for the arts and heritage
recedes, money will need to be found from elsewhere. The Secretary
of State for Culture is right to want to promote a culture of
philanthropy in the UK. But we have a number of concerns.
18. There seems to be some confusion over
what philanthropy means, and the lines between private philanthropy
and corporate sponsorship are often blurred. Corporate sponsorship
is an important element of arts funding (many blockbuster museum
exhibitions would not be staged without corporate support), but
it is not philanthropic: it is a business transaction. Philanthropy
is the donation of cash or objects. The Art Fund is a philanthropic
organisation: our 80,000 members and supporters donate money (from
£33 each year to thousands of pounds), which is then pooled
to buy art for public collections.
19. If the government is really serious
about building a culture of philanthropy, there will need to be
both an acceptance by HM Treasury that tax incentives have a central
part to play, and a review of the whole tax system.
20. The UK tax system has its roots in the
Edwardian era and where incentives exist, they are based on offering
incentives to sell privately to museums and galleries rather than
selling on the open market; it does not promote individual giving
or link tax write-offs to gifts. Two schemes exist to encourage
the transfer of art into the public domain: Acceptance in Lieu,
which allows individuals to settle tax owed with a work of art
or land; and Private Treaty Sales, which give tax deductions to
those selling art to public collections instead of on the open
market. These are important schemes, but neither has a philanthropic
21. Even Gift Aid, which is often promoted
as a philanthropic tax incentive, is becoming in practice more
of a match-funding scheme that anything about incentivising individuals
by offering reduction in tax payable in return for donations to
charity. While a small number of major donors do use Gift Aid
as a tax incentive (particularly benefiting the arts sector),
it does not encourage additional giving by the vast majority of
people "gift aiding" their donations to charity.
22. There are even fewer incentives currently
available to encourage people to donate art and heritage treasures
to the nation. The Art Fund has long campaigned for the introduction
of a tax incentive to encourage the lifetime donation of art to
museums and galleries, as exists in almost every other Western
nation. We have submitted a detailed proposal, and both parties
in the current coalition government pledged to introduce our scheme
in their pre-election manifesto. We urge them to now make good
their promise, which would help our public collections to develop
at a time when museums are struggling financially.
175 The Art Fund Museum Survey March-September
Taking Part: the National Survey of Culture, Leisure and Sport,
Adult and Child report 2009-10, August 2010. Back
This figure varies: 60% of Tate's funding, for example, is now
raised from commercial, private and charitable sources. Back
Camelot Gross Profits Tax briefing, July 2009. Back
Figures provided by HLF head office. Back