A record number of National Treasures accepted for the public this Christmas

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A record number of National Treasures accepted for the public this Christmas
A Church Interior by Hendrik van Steenwijck the Younger. Photo Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

LONDON.- The Arts Council has today, 21 December 2020, published the 2019/20 Cultural Gifts Scheme and Acceptance in Lieu Annual Report, revealing that objects worth nearly £65 million, settling tax of £40 million, were accepted for the nation. In a record-breaking year for the Government schemes, the number of cases reported was also the highest ever.

Acceptance in Lieu plays a significant role in developing collections and has proved highly effective in securing important new acquisitions for national and regional collections. Its sister scheme, the Cultural Gifts Scheme, is also attracting donors and enriching the UK’s cultural heritage. This year’s report shows the valuable role they both play in enabling public collections to acquire important cultural property, particularly at a time when organisations are facing extraordinary challenges – with budgets and the acquisition landscape affected – due to the impact of Covid-19.

An eclectic range of objects encompassing paintings, sculptures, fossils, photographs, prints, archives and manuscripts have been allocated to public collections across the United Kingdom, where they will be available for generations to come. The total value of the items accepted through the schemes is a record high and it is the first time that the current budget (the amount of tax that can be settled under both schemes) has been fully utilised.

Culture Gifts Scheme (CGS)

CGS enables UK taxpayers to donate important works to the nation receiving a tax reduction based on a set percentage of the value of the object they are donating. In this past year, CGS saw the highest number of gifts accepted since its inception in 2013, with highlights including:

• A group of 32 monoprints by Naum Gabo allocated across the UK, demonstrating the spread of institutions receiving gifts: the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art; The Pier Arts Centre, Orkney; the Fitzwilliam Museum and Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge; and The Hepworth Wakefield.

• The archive of artist and record sleeve designer Barney Bubbles.

• A collection of important fossils of some of the earliest land-dwelling creatures in the British Isles.

• A geological diagram documenting the strata cross-sections of mines in the North of England, measuring a colossal 42 feet in length.

Acceptance in Lieu (AIL)

AIL allows UK taxpayers to settle Inheritance Tax or one of its earlier forms by offering important works to the nation. Highlights from the report include:

• A series of five paintings by Leonard Rosoman, which depict the first gay kiss and drag ball in British Theatre.

• Fifteen works by Frank Auerbach, including an early oil painting depicting Juliet Yardley Mills, and a charcoal drawing by R.B. Kitaj.

• Significant archival material including that of Conservative politician Peter Carington, who served as Foreign Secretary under Margaret Thatcher, and acclaimed barrister Jeremy Hutchinson, who defended Penguin Books over its publication of DH Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

• National museums in the devolved nations have received several works: a significant Manet portrait and a landscape by Camille Corot have been acquired by National Museum Wales; National Galleries of Scotland has received a striking gouache by Marc Chagall (the first to enter Scotland’s national art collection); and six etchings by Rembrandt have gone to National Museums Northern Ireland.

• The Pond at Letchworth by Spencer Gore returns to where it was painted; it has been acquired by North Hertfordshire Museum in Hitchin, located just 4 miles from the painting’s setting.

Caroline Dinenage, Minister of State for Digital and Culture in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: "The Cultural Gifts and Acceptance in Lieu Schemes exist so that we can save important objects and works of art for the public. It's brilliant to see that so many have been added to the national collection. It has been a challenging year for the sector, but it is fantastic to end it knowing that these objects will enrich collections and inspire visitors all over the UK for generations to come."

Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair, Arts Council England, said: “This report presents powerful evidence of the breadth and quality of the works of art, objects, manuscripts and archives that have been given to the public through the Acceptance in Lieu and Cultural Gift Schemes. Despite the challenges facing the cultural sector, there is some cause for celebration in knowing that cultural artefacts with a market value of nearly £65 million have entered public collections across the UK this year, which is a record high for the schemes.”

“As we look to the new year, when institutions can prepare to safely open their doors again, these items will be enjoyed by, educate and inspire millions of people. As ever, I would like to express my gratitude to the Acceptance in Lieu Panel and its Chair, Edward Harley, whose commitment and expertise continues to ensure the schemes’ resounding success.”

Edward Harley, Chair, Acceptance in Lieu Panel, said: “It is a great pleasure to announce the publication of this report which outlines the many objects that have entered public collections in the past year thanks to the Acceptance in Lieu and the Cultural Gifts Schemes. Two thirds of allocations have been made to institutions outside London and exciting acquisitions have been made by the national museums in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The variety of objects remains as diverse as ever and it is particularly exciting that the number of institutions receiving items through the schemes for the first time continues to grow.”

Both schemes are administered by the Arts Council.

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