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Credit scheme to help people buy Artworks 2004-11-25

Posted by clype in Humanities, Money, Scotland.
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Instant credit, easy terms and no hassle.

The kind of perks used to sell televisions or mobile cell phones were offered yesterday [2004-11-24, We] to those ready to take the plunge and buy a work of art.

The Scottish Arts Council and its English counterpart launched the “Own Art” scheme across the UK yesterday to offer interest-free loans of up to 2 000 GBP to prospective art collectors.

Nine galleries in Scotland, selling works by many of the country’s leading artists, are among the first to sign up.

They include three galleries in Edinburgh, two in Glasgow and others in Aberdeen, Inverness, Dundee and Crieff.

The cash might not cover an Alison Watt or a Peter Howson, and it is not meant to pay for reprints of Jack Vettriano. But for those with a hankering for a work by an up-and-coming Scottish artist and worried about the price tag, it could tip the balance between buying or not.

The arts council says it has put ‘substantial’ funds behind the scheme, where customers would pick an artwork, then fill in a form and hopefully qualify for credit while still in the shop.

Loans are repayable in installments over ten months.

The goal is to foster a nation of art collectors while boosting artists’ incomes. It is targeted at first-time buyers of original, contemporary visual art, from painting and sculpture to video and photography.

The managing director of the Scottish Gallery in Edinburgh, Guy Peploe, said yesterday:

‘I think it’s a very good idea in that it may make that difference. It’s all about people making up their minds and saying let’s go for this. It’s one more excuse removed.

‘As an agent, we can then pay our supplier, the artist, up front. It will encourage younger customers to get involved. Buying art is addictive. No-one ever buys just one picture’.

Mr.Peploe’s gallery staged a festival exhibition last year by Elizabeth Blackadder (Royal Academy Straightwood Galleries “Elizabeth Blackadder Prints” – book by Christopher Allan).

Prices in Mr.Peploe’s current show, of work by Victoria Crowe, (Scottish Gallery, Dumcroon, Dumcroon: Sketchbooks) run from 950 GBP to 18 500 GBP, but most of his art sells for 2 000 GBP or less, he said.

The scheme’s cap of 2 000 GBP means it would help most with works by artists in their early or mid-careers, he said. Mr.Peploe cited the example of Alison McGill, with an exhibition next year, as one artist who might benefit. But the loan can be put towards more expensive paintings, and customers can apply for loans on more than one work — credit permitting.

The loan agreements are between the galleries and ArtCo Trading, a subsidiary of the Arts Council England. They are financed by HFC Bank, and The Scottish Arts Council underwrites part of the interest.

The galleries pay a 2 per cent commission, less than they would to a credit card company. For buyers there is no interest.

‘For every 10 GBP we invest, that equates to 320 GBP in arts purchases’, said an Arts Council spokesman.

The scheme has already run on a trial basis in a handful of UK galleries. To qualify, they must show that they work directly with Scottish artists, stock a high proportion of original art rather than prints or reproductions, and have a Consumer Credit Licence.

The Scottish galleries so far participating in “Own Art” include Dundee Contemporary Arts, Edinburgh Printmakers, the Glasgow Print Studio, the Roger Billcliffe Gallery, in Glasgow, Peacock Visual Arts, in Aberdeen, the Castle Gallery, in Inverness, and the Strathearn Gallery, in Crieff.

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