Friday, June 29, 2007

The Own Art Scheme: making art affordable

Tombstone Agave
30cm x 20cm,
coloured pencil on Arche HP

copyright Katherine Tyrrell
The Own Art scheme is designed to make it easy and affordable for everyone to buy contemporary works of art and craft including paintings, photography, sculpture, glassware and furniture. The Own Art Home Page
Have you ever heard of the Own Art Scheme?

The Arts Council set up this national art purchase scheme to:
  • enable people from all walks of life society to access and own original works of art - by having an affordable means of buying art
  • help artists to live by means of their own creative endeavour and output - by helping more people to buy their art
  • support galleries which sell high quality contemporrary art - and stimulate local and regional economies through promoting the small-scale gallery network in the regions – with a particular focus on supporting the tourist economy.
Helping to provide a sustainable income base for artists at all stages of their careers, supporting a breadth of practice and providing an economic stimulus for different regional economies are all laudable aims. So how does it work?

The Own Art plan makes art affordable and replaces the various regionally led schemes that were available previously. Essentially it's a loan scheme. Arts Council England runs the scheme through its trading company ArtCo Trading Ltd. HFC Bank Ltd, which is a subsidiary of HSBC, provides the credit.

Art buyers can borrow up to £2,000, or as little as £100, and pay back the loan in 10 monthly instalments - interest free*. The loan can cover the total purchase price or just be a contribution towards a more expensive piece. The only catch is that it has to involve the purchase of art from participating galleries.

If you're a contemporary artist then you might want to take a look at the galleries which have signed up to the scheme - you can find a list of those in England here. You can filter the information about the 159 participating galleries to identify those which operate in your region, town or exhibit the sort of artwork which interests you.

At the moment they're not accepting any new applications from galleries to the scheme. My only concern about the scheme would be the controls on which galleries get accepted and the impact, if any, on prices and commission.

Over 4,500 customers used the scheme between its launch and the date it was evaluated. You can read a copy of the evaluation report here (pdf file - published in March 2006) covering the first 18 months activity. This incoporates feedback from both customers and member galleries. It indicates that key findings were that
  • 29% of respondents to the customer survey where first time buyers of art or craft and
  • 98% of all respondents would use the scheme again.
In Wales, a scheme exists called the Principality Collector Plan - with around 80 participating galleries - and you can find out more about that here.

The Scottish Arts Council also has its own version of the Own Art Scheme - you can read more about this here.

The Scottish Arts Council has also published a guide - worth reading - on How to Buy Art (pdf file). It provides tips on:
  • how to get information about art
  • how to budget
  • where to find art
  • what to think about before you buy
  • some answers to frequently asked questions
  • what to ask about the art or the artist
  • information about limited editions
  • information about common media used in contemporary art
Guardian Umlimited and Own Art also run a microsite which helps people new to buying contemporary art to understand more about the process and places to look. Similarly the Arts Council Own Art site points to the Cultureshock Media handbook for people wanting to collect contemporary art.

Again, contemporary artists might want to take a look at the directions in which people are being pointed....



Anita said...

Super Agave! We saw all the uses that the Aztecs had for this plant when we lived in Mexico - not just Tequila, but also each blade (what do you call the spiky bits!) makes a needle and thread and paper too!

Ed Terpening said...

Seems like a very innovative scheme. At least 29% of the survey respondents were new to buying art. Of course, you'd want that number higher to say the scheme is on target, but at least it's a start.

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