• Share on Facebook
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Linkedin
  • Share by email
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Linkedin
  • Share by email
Art Fund partnership banner

Art Fund has launched guidance on how UK museums, galleries, libraries and archives can acquire top quality objects for free or for much less than their market value – and how the donor/seller benefits too, as Nancy Saul explains.

A man looking at an artwork
A visitor viewing Fan by Halima Cassell, gifted by the Jerwood Collection to The Hepworth Wakefield through Art Fund

Janie Airey/Art Fund

With prices at the top of the art market continuing to soar, and museum acquisition budgets under growing pressure, it is becoming increasingly difficult for museums and galleries to be competitive in the market and secure great objects that expand their collections and inspire their audiences. 

Produced in collaboration with Arts Council England (ACE), Everybody is a winner brings together various schemes offered by ACE, HMRC and Art Fund that support and incentivise the transfer of art and cultural artefacts from private to public collections. They are:

-    Acceptance in Lieu
-    Cultural Gifts Scheme
-    Private Treaty Sales
-    Conditional Exemption
-    Art Fund's Gifts and Bequests programme

The aim of the guide is to raise awareness of the schemes among museum professionals, collectors and their advisers, supporting them to identify the right scheme for their situation.

We have included case studies that bring the schemes to life and demonstrate their impact, as well as top tips for museums looking to take advantage of them.

Impact cannot be overstated

As the title suggests, the schemes really do benefit everyone involved. In the case of Acceptance in Lieu and Private Treaty Sales, owners benefit more than if they were to sell their work on the open market, while the museum acquires the work for free or for significantly less than its market value. 

David Lammy has said of Acceptance in Lieu: "It is in nearly every way the holy grail of public policy. Absolutely everybody is a winner."

In 2022, ACE reported that the Acceptance in Lieu and Cultural Gifts schemes had placed objects valued at over £57m with public collections across the UK. And in the year up to March 2023, works by Damien Hirst, Claude Monet and Barbara Hepworth were among 48 items worth more than £52m acquired by museums and galleries nationwide under both initiatives.

In the same year, 729 works of art entered public collections through Art Fund’s Gifts and Bequests programme. The impact of these schemes on the sector cannot be overstated.

Simple steps

We would like to see more museums and galleries benefitting from the schemes and there are some simple steps that they can take to proactively make use of them.

•    Make sure staff - particularly those working in collections and fundraising - understand the schemes so that they can spot opportunities.
•    With every potential acquisition, consider whether it could be eligible for any of the schemes.
•    Have early conversations with donors, collectors and lenders. Make them aware of the benefits that the schemes offer them. Share the guide with them.
•    Check the ACE website for items available through the Acceptance in Lieu, Cultural Gifts or Conditional Exemption schemes. 

All the schemes are UK-wide and available to owners and institutions across all four nations. The schemes offered by ACE and HMRC can be used for both works of art and items of historic, scientific and local significance – from paintings to archives, jewellery to scientific instruments.

Our doors are open – if you’d like further advice on the schemes, please do get in touch with Art Fund. We’d be happy to help.

Nancy Saul is Senior Programme Manager (Collections) at Art Fund.

This article, sponsored and contributed by Art Fund, is part of a series sharing information and expertise to support museums and galleries to recover from the pandemic and develop audiences for the future. 

Link to Author(s): 
Headshot of Nancy Saul