Supplementary written evidence submitted
by the Arts Council England (art 235)
1. What is the Arts Council Collection (ACC)?
1.1 The Arts Council Collection (ACC) is
the foremost loan collection of post-war and contemporary British
art. With more than 7,500 artworks, it is also the most widely
circulated loan collection anywhere in the country. At any one
time between 25 and 30% of its works are on show somewhere in
the country (this figure is high in comparison to most public
collections, which typically have around 10% of their work on
show at any one time). The ACC was given National Status under
the terms of the National Heritage Act of 1980. The ACC is increasingly
1.2 Established in 1946 to promote and enrich
knowledge of contemporary art, the Collection continues to support
artists living and working in Britain through the acquisition
of their works, many at an early stage of their career, and to
foster the widest possible access to modern and contemporary art
across the UK.
1.3 The ACC places modern and contemporary
art in a wide variety of public buildings across the UK, from
museums and galleries to schools, universities and hospitals,
either in the form of one-off exhibitions, or short- or long-term
loans. Its travelling exhibitions tour extensively to venues and
communities that otherwise have limited access to modern and contemporary
1.4 By exhibiting in diverse communities
around the country the Collection reaches a broad demographic,
not only through exhibitions, displays and loans, but also by
fostering projects with young people, undergraduate and postgraduate
1.5 The ACC commands sustained respect among
arts professionals for its excellent track record in the early
purchase of artwork (ie before artists become national and international
figures). As an illustration of the reputation and recognition
of the important role it plays in developing audiences across
the country for emerging artists, in the financial year 2009-10
the ACC accepted gifts to a total value of £303,000. Important
works in the collection include Head VI by Francis Bacon,
Field for the British Isles by Antony Gormley, He Tried
to Internalize Everything by Damien Hirst and The Simple
Truth by Tracey Emin.
1.6 The ACC has a robust acquisitions process
and makes strenuous and continuous efforts to avoid duplication
with other UK public collections, including the Government Art
Collection, British Council collection and the Tate collection.
The robustness of the methodology is to the standards demanded
by third parties such as the Art Fund, who insist on a review
of holdings in public collections as a central part of their application
process. A review of the holdings of UK public collections is
also a standard part of the research process involved in considering
any new acquisition to the Collection.
1.7 Aside from these primary functions,
the ACC is a first resource for loans to exhibitions organised
by other museums and galleries, alongside other publicly funded
national collections of contemporary art.
1.8 The ACC is not only a resource for borrowing
works of art, but also a repository of information about collections
management, collecting and curating at the disposal of institutions
across the country. It runs a successful annual programme of free
professional development events (Curators Days) for curators from
public museums and galleries across the UK which acts as a forum
for professional networking and the discussion of current issues.
1.9 In 2009-10 works from the ACC were exhibited
in towns and cities throughout the UK, including Leeds, Durham,
Plymouth, Bexhill-on-Sea, Carmarthen, Glasgow, Hull, Leamington
Spa, Warwick, Lincoln, Southampton, Newcastle, Manchester, Stirling,
Ayr, Cardiff, Liverpool, Stoke-on-Trent, Anglesey, Derby, Tunbridge
Wells, St Ives, Sheffield, Swansea, Aberystwyth, Norwich, Wolverhampton,
Paddock Wood, Walsall, Coventry, Bradford, Cheltenham, York, Nottingham,
Scarborough, Stockton on Tees, Lochmaddy, London, Bath, Birmingham,
Rugby and Carlisle. A full list of exhibitions and loans from
this period is available on request.
2. Collection storage facilities
2.1 The ACC is managed by the Southbank
Centre, London, on behalf of Arts Council England and is based
in the Hayward Gallery at Southbank Centre and at Longside, Yorkshire
Sculpture Park. The base at Longside enables the ACC team to extend
its sculpture conservation and research programmes and to increase
public access to the sculpture collection. A diverse range of
exhibitions from the Collection, including displays of some of
the most recent acquisitions, can be seen in the adjacent Longside
2.2 The ACC is able to offer any of its
art at short notice to public buildings in the country, precisely
because no part of the collection is on permanent exhibition in
any one art gallery. The ACC places great emphasis on providing
efficient and swift access to works, as well as providing good
maintenance and management. This is dependent on high quality,
well run storage. Our storage facilities at Oval and Longside
are active, well-used buildings, with a high traffic of works
in and out on a weekly basis, as well as a steady stream of visitors.
They not only provide the correct environments for the storage
of important works, but also act as venues for a number of events
for colleagues from regional museums and galleries every year.
2.3 The storage facility at Oval enables
efficient access to the Hayward Gallery transport for touring
exhibitions and loans, as well as being an important location
for the viewing of works by potential clients, curators, students
and artists. The London store also provides space for cost-effective
in-house work such as framing and mounting of flat works, Collection
photography, and routine conservation support. This saves significant
costs in transport to other professional facilities, as well as
obviating the need to hire additional space.
3. What are the administrative overheads
of running the Arts Council Collection?
3.1 The ACC gets its administrative support
from the Southbank Centre, including HR, marketing and communications,
legal, and specialist technical departments. The Collection has
only 6.6FTE dedicated staff, based in London and the Yorkshire
Sculpture Park in Wakefield. All staff are employees of the Southbank
The cost of storage (paid centrally by
ACE) in 2008-09 was £328,087.
Operational costs in 2008-09 were £404,000.
3.2 Operational costs include all the expenditure
on transport; photography; conservation; framing and material;
casemaking and packing; Curators Days; the Select exhibition scheme;
research; the exhibition programme at the Longside Gallery and
project space; website development; and various other functions.
3.3 The cost of acquiring artwork is met
through a central grant from Arts Council England, which in 2008-09
4. What are the barriers to borrowing from
the Arts Council Collection?
4.1 Because the whole collection is available
for loan, with no permanent exhibits, there are no significant
barriers to borrowing from the Arts Council Collection. Over 90%
of loan requests are approved and delivered. Exhibition loan requests
are considered monthly, and can be processed, approved and delivered
in a short period, typically with a turnaround of three to six
4.2 In the few cases where loans are declined,
this is usually because:
The requested work is already committed
to another exhibition at the time.
The venue cannot offer the appropriate
conditions in terms of security, climate control, or invigilation.
The work is large and physically cannot
be fitted through available doors/windows of the venue.
Very rarely a loan might be declined
on the grounds the work is so fragile and vulnerable that we have
to limit the number of occasions it is exhibited in order to prolong
The loan request is received at such
short notice that it cannot be agreed without jeopardizing the
delivery of existing commitments.
4.3 Loans are not limited to museums and
galleries; the Arts Council Collection also lends to charities,
hospitals, colleges, professional associations, housing associations
5. Expanding the Use of the Arts Council
5.1 In the past four years there have been
new and imaginative efforts to expand the use of and access to
the ACC. Projects have been run with school children acting as
curators (Ryedale Folk Museum, Leeds Met Gallery, Oriel Davies
Gallery and Ferens Art Gallery); stronger links with academic
institutions have been fostered via collaborative exhibitions
working with students of the Courtauld Gallery, and Goldsmiths
College and a new curatorial competition for post-graduate students
to create an exhibition from the Collection.
5.2 The ACC is working with the Hayward
Gallery and Southbank Centre on their Haywired scheme, which will
see it collaborating with five secondary schools across London
during 2011, working with pupils and staff on placing works in
the school buildings, and helping the children write their own
5.3 In 2009, via collaboration with the
Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF), all the paintings in the Collection
were photographed to the highest professional standard. More than
half the cost of this photography was borne by the PCF. All the
digital images are being uploaded to the ACC website (http://www.artscouncilcollection.org.uk/gosee.do)
as copyright is cleared; digital access to this section of the
Collection will be further broadened in 2011 when the PCF website,
Your Paintings, hosted by the BBC, is launched. The ACC will be
one of the first art collections to go online with the BBC.
5.4 In the coming year 2010-11 digital photography
and rights clearance will be completed for all remaining works
in watercolour, photography, collage, print and drawing, so that
these too will be fully illustrated on the Collection's website,
dramatically increasing access to information about the Collection's
holdings, both in this country and abroad.
5.5 In 2011 the Arts Council Collection
will launch a new collaboration with The National Trust, working
with the Trust's Trust New Art scheme to place Collection works
in National Trust properties around the UK. The Collection piloted
the project in 2009, with a project at Nunnington Hall, in North
5.6 Since 2004 the Arts Council Collection
has run series of free professional development events (Curators
Days) for curators around the country. These were oversubscribed
and increased from three to six events annually. These events
enable the Collection to update colleagues across the country
on new projects, acquisitions and forthcoming touring exhibitions,
and are important in generating new partnerships and projects
for borrowing from the Collection.
5.7 In 2010, staff members from the following
43 institutions have attended Arts Council Collection Curators
Days: The Lowry, Salford; Djanogly Art Gallery, University of
Nottingham; Ferens Art Gallery, Hull; Canterbury Museum and Art
Gallery; Bury Art Gallery; Oriel Myrddin, Carmarthen; University
of Hertfordshire Galleries; Museum of London; Manchester Metropolitan
university; University Hospitals Birmingham; Yorkshire Sculpture
Park; MIMA, Middlesborough; Hatton Gallery, Newcastle; Kettle's
Yard, Cambridge ; British Council; Artsdepot, London; QUAD, Derby;
Southend Museum; Huddersfield Art Gallery; The New Art Gallery
Walsall; Towner, Eastbourne; Turner Contemporary, Margate; Ikon,
Birmingham; De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill; freelance, Norfolk/London;
Wolverhampton Art Gallery; Plymouth Art Gallery; Baltic, Newcastle;
Whitworth, Manchester; John Hansard Gallery, Southampton; Southampton
City Art Gallery; Guildford Museum and Art Gallery; Holbourne
Museum, Bath; Victoria Art Gallery, Bath; Thelma Hulbert Gallery,
Honiton; National Museum Wales, Cardiff; John Creasey Museum,
Salisbury; Bedlam Gallery, Brunel University; Anglia Ruskin University
Arts; Scarborough Art Gallery; Camden Arts Centre, London; Rugby
5.8 Details of exhibition loans in the UK
and overseasas well as long loans to UK bodies in the past
two yearsare available on request.
6. Third Party Endorsements of Arts Council
Dr Adrian Locke, Exhibitions Curator, Royal
Academy of Arts, London
"I can only thank you for your extremely
positive response to our very late petition to borrow the work.
Your collegial attitude was hugely encouraging and I am conscious
of having asked you and your colleagues to turn a request around
at record speed."
Dr Andrew Renton, Goldsmiths College, London
"It feels as if ACC has come alive with
possibilities of late, and that we were celebrating those possibilities|
It was a privilege to be part of it."
Hugh Player, Chief Executive, St Martin-in-the-Fields,
"We look forward to having [this] work on
view at St Martin's, to it enlightening the world for our visitors
Andy Horn, Exhibitions Manager, Birmingham
Museum and Art Gallery
"The exhibition Bridget Riley: Flashback
at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery proved the value of partnerships
with the Arts Council Collection. The exhibition drew in a huge
and appreciative audience, doubling the Museum's predicted visitor
numbers. Visitors in particular commented on the quality of the
work and its presentation. The exhibition proved the regional
public's appetite for contemporary art and single artist exhibitions
of recognised artists of the caliber of Bridget Riley."
Angela Blackwell, Curator, Thelma Hulbert
"Brilliant exhibition, great choice of works,
labels and information. This really raised the profile of the
gallery, attracted more visitors (many new) and everyone really
Robert Hall, Keeper, Huddersfield Art Gallery
"[The Arts Council Collection exhibition
in Huddersfield was] very popular with the public. Also popular
with students, plenty of return visitors."
"The Arts Council Collection is the primary
national collection conserved and exhibited for all of us. It
is unique in having no fixed abode and being available to museums
nationwide. Many of the works were bought early in artists creative
lives and for many of them (like me) it was the first sale to
a public institution so the works are often seminal to a lifetime's
evolution. It is a central resource for anyone interested in the
development of British Art and should be protected and celebrated
as the most democratic collection we have.
Field for the British Isles has been in
the Collection for years and has been seen in varied venues from
a department store to cathedrals all over the country as a result.
The Arts Council Collection is an unparalleled national resource
and should, at a time of hardship, be treasured as physical proof
of our nation's creativity."
"The Arts Council Collection has made a
unique and valuable contribution to the lives and careers of artists
working in this country. By consistently identifying key early
works by the best emerging talents it spends presciently and wisely
and gives the encouragement and kudos so crucial to those struggling
to make a start in a precarious profession. And that is merely
the beginning. The Collection acquired my work, Angel, in 1997,
since when it has been exhibited in no less than 18 different
galleries the length and breadth of this country. I can't tell
you the amount of people I bump into who cite seeing this work
in places I never knew it had been, for which I am very grateful."
eyton-Jones, Director, Serpentine Gallery
"The Arts Council Collection is an invaluable
resource for organisations like the Serpentine Gallery. Seminal
works by artists Rebecca Warren, Richard Hamilton and Gustav Metzger,
that may have otherwise been unattainable, have been lent to the
Serpentine Gallery by the Collection in the last 18 months alone
for the enjoyment of thousands of people. It has provided a vital
contribution to culture for many years, and is now online for
the benefit of a wider audience."
Alex Farquharson, Director, Nottingham Contemporary
"Whichever way you look at it, the contemporary
art market being what it is, £180,000 is an extremely modest
acquisition budget for an important, public and nationally distributed
collection of contemporary art. Over the years, the curators of
the Arts Council Collection have produced a disproportionately
high artistic and educational return on this investment through
a selection process that is intelligent, responsible and imaginative.
The Hockney and Bacon examples ... illustrate this. In my experience
of running public galleries in Nottingham, Cardiff and Exeter,
those overseeing it have been generous in responding to requests
for loans of art works from the Collection."
Simon Wallis, Director, the Hepworth Wakefield
"The Hepworth Wakefield has been working
closely and productively with the Arts Council Collection in developing
the gallery's collection displays and exhibition programme, which
opens to the public in May 2011. We see the Arts Council Collection
as a vital national resource that we will be drawing from extensively
and regularly to benefit the people of the region and our many
visitors. Caroline Douglas is a great champion of making this
expertly researched, astute and important collection widely accessible.
We are delighted to be working closely with her and her team to
further this wider appreciation and enjoyment of world-class art
made in this country from 1946 to the present day."
Stephen Snoddy, Director, New Art Gallery,
"We at The New Art Gallery, Walsall have
always regarded our relationship with the Arts Council Collection
as extremely positive and rewarding and our requests for loans,
even at short notice have been granted, even to the extent that
the Collection curators have suggested additional loans to complement
the exhibition or display. As resources become more limited the
Collection will be more in demand and I'm sure it will respond
by reaching out across the country."
Jonathan Watkins, Director, Ikon Gallery,
"I'm writing in response to Dalya Alberge's
article in The Sunday Times (31 October) concerning the
Arts Council Collection. It strikes me as a misleading account,
particularly in light of the numerous loans that have been made
to Ikon, enhancing our exhibitions, making them more attractive
to tens of thousands of visitors. The professionalism and responsiveness
of your team is exemplary as befits the nature of the cultural
asset that you manage. It is valuable (beyond the sum of the values
of individual works of art) and lively through the method of acquisitions,
tracing an extraordinary history as well as providing wonderful
aesthetic encounters. Any idea of `selling parts of the collection
to help meet the [current] funding crisis' would be strategically
short sighted. Please know that we here at Ikon stand shoulder
to shoulder with you in resistance."