Tax breaks for Art Donors

  • 9 May 2007

Art Fund Director, David Barrie, has written a Guardian blog about tax breaks for Art donors.


His blog comes in response to news that The Seattle Art Museum has received more than 1,000 works of art from 53 donors as part of an acquisition campaign to celebrate its 75th anniversary next year.

Works by Mark Rothko, Constantin Brancusi and John Singer Sargeant have been donated from top private collections.  As Marc Porter, president of Christie’s Americas commented in The Art Newspaper this month; ‘this is an incredibly devoted group of collectors who have been assembling the finest works in their fields for decades.  They are collections you simply can’t put together anymore.’

Furthermore, this is not a one-off; The Art Newspaper reports that a number of US institutions have benefited from similar acts of generosity. The inability of UK museums to collect in a similar fashion once again raises the question of tax incentives.

David Barrie laments the fact that despite the enormous wealth being generated in the City, the UK lags behind in the terms of the scale of private, charitable donations.  Art Fund research last year showed that the UK national museums are being outspent on acquisitions by their competitors abroad - all of which benefit from better tax incentives. Indeed, our big nationals are sometimes raising more money from their American Friends than from UK taxpayers.

Cultural giving is also about donor recognition. Most importantly as David Barries notes,  encouraging people to give in their lifetime helps build a relationship between donor and institution which ultimately brings far more private money into the system than the tax relief it costs the state.

Read the blog