Back to Frequently Asked Questions About us

How we are organised and funded

What is the Art Fund's purpose?

The Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. We help museums and galleries buy works of art and help the public make the most of the UK's fascinating collections. Find out more about the different ways we do this.

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How is the Art Fund funded?

The Art Fund is an independent charity and we receive no public funding whatsoever.

Our work is only made possible thanks to the generosity of art lovers throughout the UK, whose contributions, large or small, provide our income and make our work possible. Today our 122,000 members (who all own a National Art Pass), 600 volunteerscorporate supporters and trusts and foundations continue the philanthropic spirit of our founders, who believed that by coming together, individuals can achieve great things. 

We often work in partnership with the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) and the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to raise money for important works of art. For example we ran the appeal to save Van Dyck’s final self-portrait in 2013-4 and the HLF stepped in at the last minute with a major grant of £6.3m to bring the appeal to a successful close.​

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How is the Art Fund organised?

The Art Fund is a registered charity that is governed by a Royal Charter which was granted in 1928 and incorporates bye-laws which state that 'the business of the Fund shall be managed by the Executive Committee' – today, the board of trustees.

As the trustee body of the Art Fund, the board has the primary task of considering applications from museums and galleries for grants towards the purchase of works of art, and offers of gifts as well as bequests. Trustees on the board, which meets several times a year, are expert in a range of fields including art history, business and other relevant artistic areas.

The board of trustees delegates the day-to-day running of the Art Fund to the senior management team.

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How do the museums acknowledge your support?

Museums and galleries who have received our support offer Art Fund members free or reduced-price admission to their collections and/or exhibitions on presentation of their National Art Pass.

Most museums display a discreet Art Fund logo or credit next to the works of art we helped them to buy, and some also promote the National Art Pass scheme to visitors through displays or special events.

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What is your charity number?

The Art Fund is the operating name of the National Art Collections Fund, a registered charity in England and Wales, number 209174, and in Scotland, number SC038331.

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Our strategy and policies

What are your main policies and strategy?

The Art Fund exists to help museums and galleries acquire great works of art, and to help the public make the most of them.

We raise money to do this in many ways: by giving grants to museums to buy works of art and develop new collections; supporting the showing of art through tours and exhibitions; seeking to influence government policy and stimulating debate. We also campaign to make it easier for museums to add to their collections, from pressing for new tax incentives to encourage giving, to campaigning for reforms to the export control system for art.

We are pursuing a strategy that sees us doing more to help museums in a number of ways:

  • Giving money to help museums buy works of art and develop collections, and placing gifts and bequests of art.
  • Fundraising to save important works from being lost from public view.
  • Helping the public to discover and make the most of the UK's museums through the National Art Pass and the Art Guide.
  • Supporting the development of curators – the lifeblood of museums.
  • Enabling the sharing of collections around the UK by supporting tours and exhibitions.
  • Campaigning on behalf of museums and their visitors, eg for the introduction of tax incentives to make giving easier.

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Does the Art Fund campaign to safeguard local museum services?

The Art Fund is very concerned that museums across the UK are facing serious financial and structural difficulties – and in some cases, total closure – because of local authority funding cuts. Despite the Chancellor’s recent recognition of the economic as well as wider benefits of the arts, and despite museums’ important role in creating a vibrant cultural life for local communities, museums and galleries are not a protected statutory service, and are therefore often first in the firing line when councils need to make savings.

Collections held in trust by national and local governments belong to the public, and museums play a vital role in maintaining these collections and making them available to us all. We nonetheless acknowledge that in the face of continued funding cuts it is unrealistic to expect all museums to survive unscathed and unchanged. We are sympathetic to the difficult decisions many local authorities will need to make in the coming months, and open to a range of solutions, from museums moving to independent trust status, to merged museum services and shared back-office resources.

Although the Art Fund cannot campaign to save every museum faced with damaging cuts or closure, we will step in where possible if we believe the care of a collection is under threat, or opportunities for the public to enjoy access to a collection will be severely restricted. When we act, this will be following consultation with our museum sector colleagues, and in a manner most appropriate to the situation – our response may be as part of a public consultation, through local or national press, and/or campaigning privately and behind the scenes.

Please read our policy on museum closures and cuts and find out more about our campaigning activities.

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I am concerned about funding cuts to my local museum, what can I do?

We would encourage anyone concerned about local museum cuts and closures to consider the following actions:

  • Get in touch with our public affairs and policy manager, Karen Wright at kwright@artfund.org. We may be able to offer more information, advice or assistance.
  • If your museum has a friends or volunteers group, you can get in touch with them to learn more about their plans and see how you might be able to help. There may already be a local campaign you could get involved with.
  • If there is a public consultation taking place, you can have your say by taking part. Find out more.
  • If the museum is owned and run by a local authority, you could write to the leader of the council to voice your concerns.
  • Contact your local MP by letter or email – or you could also go along to one of their regular local constituency surgeries. Find out more.

Please read our full policy on museum closures and cuts.

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How can I voice my opinion?

Please contact our dedicated supporter services team: we welcome all feedback from our supporters and we are here to answers any questions you may have about our work.

Each summer we hold an Annual General Meeting in London, where we share highlights from the previous year and announce plans for the future. Members are welcome to attend and there is a Q&A session during which we welcome questions and comments, which are recorded.

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