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More calls for Commission advice from art galleries

More calls for Commission advice from art galleries
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More calls for Commission advice from art galleries

Finance | 1 Sep 2006

Several art galleries have contacted the Charity Commission to make sure they understand governance rules in the wake of the recent trustee concerns at the Tate, and the Commission's rebuke over its governance procedures. Art galleries often contact them for advice, but the Charity Commission said the number had slightly risen following the announcement that the Tate had broken the law by purchasing its own trustees' art works.

Arts charities are prone to conflict of interest issues as a provision in some of their constitutional documents is that some trustees must be artists. A spokesperson from the Charity Commission said: "Trustees need to take their responsibilities seriously and make sure they familiarise themselves with their duties. We realise, however, that particularly for art galleries there may have been an issue of potential conflict and with this in mind, we are considering the possibility of tailored advice for arts charities."

It has been reported that Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota has accepted the criticisms and said that the error was due to "a general oversight. It appears that no one at the Tate was aware that we should have been seeking the permission of the Charity Commission."

A review was launched into how the transactions were made and the Commission is working with the Tate to strengthen its policies. All future purchases of art from serving trustees will require the Commission's authorisation. A spokesperson from the Tate said: "In light of the Commission's finding that the acquisitions were ultimately in the interests of the Tate, we do not think that cancelling and repeating the transactions would be helpful."

Other art galleries who have been criticised for not following correct procedures include the Baltic Gallery, which is under scrutiny from the National Audit Office for unrecovered publicly-funded commission fees paid to two artists. The investigation is primarily into whether formal agreement had been signed to recoup the commissioning funds for their works.

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