Art Fund responds to cuts in acquisition funds

  • 23 February 2011

Two of the Art Fund's key partners in helping regional museums to collect are to have their budgets cut.

The MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Scheme is the only fund dedicated to regional collecting in England and Wales. It is currently funded by the Museums, Archives and Libraries Council (MLA), but will fall under the remit of the Arts Council England from 2012. Its public and our members’ money have together helped to buy hundreds of works of art for museums, including recently Grayson Perry’s Print for a Politician for Manchester Art Gallery and the Montefiore Mizrach for the Jewish Museum. Its budget has been gradually chipped away from a high of £1.6m in 1981, to £900,000 in 2010/11 – and it will now be cut to just £600,000 in 2011/12.

Art Fund Director Stephen Deuchar said: “Just before Christmas, our Secretary of State for Culture, Jeremy Hunt, announced that ‘Philanthropy is not about replacing state funding with private support…nothing could be further from the truth’. But we have recently heard that the already diminished pot of the Purchase Grant Fund (PGF), which is the only designated fund for regional acquisitions in England and in Wales, is to be chopped further, the presumption being that Art Fund philanthropists and other supporters will step in and fill the gap. Of course we understand the pressure on budgets but government funds need to be readily available to show commitment and lever in additional support from other sources. When responsibility for the PGF is passed to the Arts Council, we hope that this downward spiral in funding – down from a high of £1.6 million 30 years ago to a pitiful £600,000 now, will not continue."

The Scottish Executive also recently announced that it plans to cut the PGF's sister scheme in Scotland, the National Fund for Acquisitions, in half next year. This fund will have just £100,000 to allocate to Scottish Museums.

This is a real blow to regional museums, who rely on such funding schemes to be able to add to their collections.