Dame Liz Forgan, the chair, of the Arts Council told a group of MPs in the Culture Select Committee that Arts Council England is considering selling some of its public collection so it can acquire new works. She stated, “it is not, out of the question and it was being considered.” This has raised more than a few eyebrows as all works in the collection were obviously highly rated at the time of purchase. As we know, art goes in and out of fashion, so who will be making the deaccession choices? This policy would be a change of direction for the council, which has not sold any of its thousands of works since its inception in 1946.The collection is the largest national loan collection of modern and contemporary British art, in the world. Up to a third of the Council’s collection is loaned out at any one time and the collection is widely spread throughout the country, bringing art and culture to the provinces. The Government’s Spending Review, resulting in cuts of up to 30%, has prompted the Council to consider radical ways of keeping the collection fresh and relevant. ACE is also set to take on the Museum, Libraries and Archive (MLA). Does this mean that the British Library is going to consider selling off the Magna Carta? Alan Davey, The council’s chief executive said they would like to increase the amount of work loaned out at any given time to 50%. This could raise much needed revenue. He added that not many people knew that they could borrow from the council’s collection. Which includes works by Henry Moore, Francis Bacon, David Hockney, Bridget Riley, Damien Hirst and Anish Kapoor.
Arts Council England also distributes funds to hundreds of galleries, arts venues, and theatre groups. When the cuts were announced, its spokesman said they would have “a significant impact on the cultural life of the country”. Dame Liz, a former journalist and presenter said, the cuts were “fair and decent, but tough for the arts.” Does Liz Forgan also think it is fair to allow the Government to spend 7 billion on illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as it cuts the Arts by 30%? This may seem irrelevant, but lets get our priorities straight before we start selling off the family jewels!