Arts Council Publishes 2016/17 In Lieu Cultural Gifts Scheme Annual Report




The Arts Council has published its 2016/17 Cultural Gifts Scheme and Acceptance in lieu annual report. It shows that in the last year, 44 cases – spanning a vast range of works of art worth £40 million – were accepted for the nation under the government’s Cultural Gifts Scheme and Acceptance in Lieu Scheme. Objects accepted through these schemes are allocated to public collections throughout the UK and are available for everyone to engage with and enjoy. 

Cultural Gift highlights include:

• The first cultural gift to the ss Great Britain Trust of over 850 items relating to one of the nation’s greatest engineers Isambard Kingdom Brunel and his family

• One of the most important donations to a UK museum of works by Fabergé including carved animals once belonging to Queen Alexandra

• A strikingly realistic Renaissance sculpture of a foot

• The first cultural gift to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art of an important early Constructivist sculpture by Naum Gabo

The Cultural Gifts Scheme enables UK taxpayers to donate important works of art, historic or scientific objects to the nation. In return, donors will receive a tax reduction based on a set percentage of the value of the object they are donating – 30% for individuals and 20% for companies. Since the scheme was introduced by the UK Government in 2013, cultural gifts have steadily become an important part of the UK’s cultural philanthropic landscape.

Acceptance in Lieu has received the highest number of offers in the last year since the scheme began over 100 years ago. It has brought a great many treasures into public collections in 2016/17 including:

John Singer Sargent

John Singer Sargent

• The first offer in lieu to Durham Oriental museum of a Ming Dynasty sculpture of a bodhisattva (enlightened being);

• A masterpiece painted by John Singer Sargent when he was just 19 years old

• Two seminal sculptures from the 1960s by Sir Anthony Caro

• A tiara given by the Duke of Fife to his bride, Princess Louise

• A group of antiquities from Castle Howard, a magnificent historic house in the north of England

• The archive of former Labour Deputy Leader and Cabinet Minister Denis Healey

• The papers of the physiologist and pioneer in reproductive medicine, Sir Robert Edwards

Acceptance in Lieu allows those who have to pay Inheritance Tax or once of its earlier forms to do so by offering important works of art, historic or scientific objects to the nation.

Both schemes are administered by the Arts Council on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). In the last decade the schemes have brought over £330 million worth of cultural property into public collections where they can be enjoyed by the millions of people who visit the UK’s museums, galleries and libraries.

Edward Harley, Chairman Acceptance in Lieu Panel, said: “This last year has seen a record number of important cultural objects accepted through Acceptance in Lieu and the Cultural Gifts Scheme. These items can now be enjoyed by visitors to the UK’s museums, galleries, historic houses and libraries. In the last decade the schemes have brought over £330 million worth of cultural property into public collections across the UK. Thank you to all those who have contributed to the success of the schemes.”

Fabergé carved animals once belonging to Queen Alexandra

Fabergé carved animals once belonging to Queen Alexandra

Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair Arts Council England, said: “It gives me enormous pleasure to see so many important works of art come into public ownership through Acceptance in Lieu and the Cultural Gifts Scheme. The acquisitions detailed in this report can now be enjoyed by millions of visitors to the nation’s public museums, libraries and galleries. I am particularly pleased to see that the range and number of institutions benefitting from the scheme continues to grow. I would like to express my gratitude to the Chairman, Edward Harley, and members of the Acceptance in Lieu Panel and the many expert advisers listed at the back of this report, whose unstinting contribution ensures the schemes work properly and have the trust of offerors, professional advisers and recipient organisations.”

At a time when museum and library acquisition budgets are under great pressure, it gives me enormous pleasure to see so many important works of art come into public ownership through Acceptance in Lieu and the Cultural Gifts Scheme. These schemes now provide one of the principal ways in which public collections across the country can acquire significant works, in the majority of cases at no cost to the institution.

The acquisitions detailed in this report can now be enjoyed by millions of visitors to the nation’s public museums, libraries and galleries. This year’s cultural gifts are a typically diverse range. They include a highly idiosyncratic and strikingly realistic Renaissance sculpture of a foot, a collection of more than 850 items relating to the great engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel and an important early work by Constructivist artist Naum Gabo. I am particularly pleased to see that the range and number of institutions benefitting from the scheme continues to grow.

This year, the ss Great Britain Trust, the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art all received their first allocations under the scheme. A number of key sculptures by major British artists have been accepted in lieu over the last year, including two works by Sir Anthony Caro, which are of great importance in the history of Modernist sculpture, and a large late bronze by Dame Barbara Hepworth that will remain in perpetuity at the site overlooking St Ives chosen for it by Hepworth in 1973.

Paintings by émigré artists Oskar Kokoschka, Josef Herman and Jankel Adler will help to tell the story of the influential creative contribution made by Jewish artists working in Britain after World War II. The enchanting The Origin of a Painter demonstrates the influence of Old Master painting on 19th-century artist William Mulready. Major full-scale paintings by Mulready are rare and this will make a fine addition to National Museums Liverpool’s holdings.

Important archival material has been secured for the nation, including the archive of Sir Robert Edwards, detailing his pioneering scientific research in the development of in vitro fertilisation, and the papers of Labour politician Denis Healey, charting his life and career from the 1930s up until his death in 2015. This report also details four beautifully bound natural history albums containing hundreds of watercolours of bird, mammal and plant specimens. I would like to express my gratitude to the Chairman, Edward Harley, and members of the Acceptance in Lieu Panel and the many expert advisers listed at the back of this report, whose unstinting contribution ensures the schemes work properly and have the trust of offerors, professional advisers and recipient organisations. – Sir Nicholas Serota CH Chair, Arts Council England

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