Museums and galleries facing tightened budgets have been offered relief today, with the Arts Fund announcing a more than 50 per cent increase in its programme to fund the purchase and showing of pieces of art.
The Arts Fund has pledged to boost its acquisition and show programme from £4.5m a year to £7m up until 2014 in response to the financial difficulties galleries and museums find themselves in as a result of statutory funding cuts and the economic downturn as a whole.
The public will be asked to dip into their own pockets to help secure artworks for the nation, according to the Arts Fund plans launched today, with the funder pledging to run more public fundraising campaigns for artworks at risk of being lost to British institutions. It will also join the volley of voices calling for tax reforms to enable lifetime giving (lifetime legacies) of works of art by individuals to enable galleries and museums to acquire pieces.
In addition to these initiatives, the Arts Fund has launched the National Arts Pass scheme, a membership initiative which will offer pass holders access to fee-charging arts institutions and discounts on special exhibitions.
That extra money, however, is not yet in Arts Fund's pockets. An Arts Fund spokeswoman told Civil Society that the organisation expects to be able to increase the acquisition fund by the pledged £2.5m by money raised via the National Arts Pass scheme, better internal house-keeping, and soliciting more donations from trusts, foundations and individuals. To this end, the Arts Fund has already secured a pledge for a £1.5m donation spread over the next three years from the Wolfson Foundation to fund the boosted programme.
Stephen Deuchar, Art Fund director, said: “We must ensure that museums remain able to collect, display and interpret great works of art, for a wide public, whatever the financial pressures of the moment. Supported by the National Art Pass, we are determined to help this happen.”
Jeremy Hunt MP, secretary of state for culture, Olympics, media and sport welcomed the announcement, echoing as it does his calls for arts philanthropy to increase in the face of reduced government expenditure on the arts. “The Art Fund has led the way in showing that philanthropy can be about small as well as large donations – and enabling many more people to access great art. I wish them every success,” he said.