Own Art delivers £25m sales boost for UK art scene

Own Art delivers £25m sales boost for UK art scene

Buy now, pay later initiative breathes new life into UK art galleries

Galleries across the UK have generated £25m in sales through Own Art, an Art Council scheme that aims to encourage more people to buy contemporary art.

The Own Art initiative, now in its tenth year, allows galleries across the UK to offer customers a flexible way to pay for the work of living artists.

Under the terms of the scheme, the cost of any piece of contemporary art, from painting to ceramics, is settled by an interest-free loan of between £100 and £2,500 from Arts Council England, which can be paid back in 10 monthly installments of as little as £10.

The purpose of the scheme is to funnel a larger proportion of the UK art spend toward living artists. Around £15m has been paid to artists to date, with the galleries taking £10m through commissions.

Own Art is aimed at art lovers on limited budgets. A quarter of Own Art sales each year are made to customers who have an income of £25,000 per annum or less.

The loan can also be used as a part-payment on higher value items, which helps galleries to promote more expensive pieces. Own Art claims that 80pc of customers have used the scheme to allow them to buy a more expensive piece.

Sarah Brittain, director of Cornwall Contemporary in Penzance, said: “It helps not only to support galleries and encourage a whole new section of the public to become art purchasers, but it also helps to sustain the careers of my artists.”

There are currently 250 galleries across the UK offering Own Art. Over 30,000 people have used the scheme to date.

According to Chris Brooks, who runs the Atelier Rose and Gray Gallery in Bury, the Own Art initiative has helped to increase revenues at his start-up business by 30pc.

“We opened our gallery in Ramsbottom in December 2010”, he explained. “In our first year trading we sold £100,000 and in the second year we doubled our turnover to over £200,000. Of those sales, approximately £60,000 of these sales were made using the Own Art scheme.”

“I believe that the majority of these purchases would not have gone ahead had it not been for the scheme,” he added.

The additional revenue has allowed Mr Brooks to open a sister gallery in Cheshire.”In our third year of trading we have opened up a second gallery in Hale and in our first years trading in our new gallery space we again taken roughly £50,000 on the ‘Own Art’ scheme,” he said.

The Art Council is the national development agency for the arts in England, distributing public money from the Government and the National Lottery. A total of 696 organisations are set to receive £1bn in funding between 2012 and 2015. However, under recent funding cuts, the Art Council will have budgets cut by £25m.

The Telegraph

4:59PM BST 27 Jun 2014


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