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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Art Fund announces museum funding fillip and national art pass

The Art Fund's new National Art Pass will allow half-price entry to exhibitions such as Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape at Tate Modern. The Art Fund's new National Art Pass will allow half-price entry to exhibitions such as Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape at Tate Modern. Photograph: PA

The UK's biggest art charity, the Art Fund, intends to increase the amount it makes available for galleries to buy works of art by more than 50% by 2014 – warning that at a time of government spending cuts, museum collections risk being "fatally undermined".

The charity also launched a new National Art Pass, which will give members of the charity free entry to over 200 museums and half-price admittance to temporary shows. The pass has been dubbed "the aesthete's Oyster" by Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum – a museum's equivalent of the card that regulars use on the London transport network.

Annually, the Art Fund will hand out £7m, rather than the £4.5m it grants currently. According to the Art Fund director Stephen Deuchar: "In the past six months, as I have been talking to museum directors ... about how we can help them, I've been struck by growing worries that as belts tighten, and national and local funding diminishes severely, that acquisitions of major works of art may not be possible and all past progress in creating world-class collections may be fatally undermined."

Museums and galleries, he said, could not continue as lively and vital institutions reflecting the society around them without renewing their collections. "We can't just stop collecting," he said. "It would be like a theatre not saying it wasn't going to mount any more new productions or a library saying they weren't going to buy any new books."

The Art Fund, formally the National Art Collections Fund, is the UK's largest art charity. Founded in 1903, it exists to help museums and galleries buy works of art that would otherwise be lost from public view. It is largely funded by the £35 annual fee paid by its 80,000 members and has mounted many successful fundraising campaigns to save artworks for the nation, including, last year, the fundraising effort to buy the Staffordshire Hoard of Anglo-Saxon treasures and Pieter Bruegel the Younger's The Procession to Calvary.

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