Interest-Free Loans to Buy Art
From the BBC [via artinfo.com]:
Apparently similar programs have been introduced in Britain and The Netherlands. This description of how the UK's "Own Art" program (which Bill Gusky blogged about last month) is working in Scotland lays out the details, including who's eligible (on both the buying and selling end):
Banks providing the loans will be compensated through tax breaks for corporate art patronage.
Small businesses, too, are to be given greater tax incentives to buy art works and auction houses will be modernised.
An independent study by art market experts Artprice showed France with 6.4% of art sales worldwide in 2007.
China has 7.3%, Britain 29.7% and the US 41.7%, according to the survey.
Figures suggest the French art market is growing at only 13%, compared with 36% globally.
Own Art offers interest free loans (typical 0% APR) of £100 to £2,000, which are repaid in regular instalments, making it easier for people to buy high quality contemporary art and crafts. By encouraging sales in a wide range of visual art and craft including painting, sculpture, photography and ceramics, Own Art aims to encourage new buyers and patrons of contemporary art and develop the visual arts economy through increasing sales, which will benefit both galleries and artists.The following is a bit eyebrow-raising though:
Galleries are selected by an independent panel which assesses each application based on certain criteria including the quality of work on sale, their professional relationship with artists, the quality of exhibition space and the knowledge and training of staff.I mean, I can see where that might prevent con artists (if you'll excuse the obvious irony of that term in this context) from opening up a space and raking it in with bogus crap. But then again, who's to decide ultimately what's bogus or crap if not the purchasing public?
The list of galleries participating in this program in London includes some top notch spaces, I must say, but I also noted a good number of obvious omissions, making me wonder whether the program is pointless for some galleries (i.e., they don't have work for sale in that price range) or whether there might be some downside to the program that makes it less interesting for them. Londoners? Can you educate me here?
But back to my originally stated uncertainty about this. I'm not a raging free market nut by any means, and I appreciate that one goal of such programs is to help emerging artists, but there's a little voice in the back of my head saying there's a longer-term side effect of this that will possibly do more harm than good. Also, I'm also not so sure the nationalistic pride component that's driving France to this measure isn't antiquated in the global market.
If nationalism has to play a role (because that's what politicians do), then rather than put energies into making it easier to buy or sell the art France is producing (which, quite frankly, can be seen as somewhat insulting on one level...the notion that French artists needs a government program to help them compete), why not put the money into promoting it to a wider audience instead? To be blunt, I think the reason France slipped to #4 has more to do with China's relentless promoting of their art (and culture in general) than any discernible difference in quality among collectors.