Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Art of the Matter; an Innovative New Scheme Offering Interest-Free Finance Is Opening Up the Art Market

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Art of the Matter; an Innovative New Scheme Offering Interest-Free Finance Is Opening Up the Art Market

Article excerpt


AN ARTS Council scheme to encourage aspiring art collectors and foster lesser-known designer-makers and artists, launches in London this month. The project, offering interestfree loans to buyers of artworks up to [pounds sterling]2,000, was piloted in the provinces from April 2004 and, within eight months of its initiation, had resulted in [pounds sterling]2.8 million worth of sales to almost 4,000 collectors, many of whom used the loan scheme more than once. Hopes are that Own Art will also result in a spending spree in the capital that will help support talented young designers and gallery owners.

Well-known galleries participating in the scheme include The Photographers' Gallery, The Whitechapel, Cockpit Arts and Contemporary Applied Arts (CAA), whose director Tass Mavrogordato has just applied to join the Own Art scheme.

CAA is a not-for-profit gallery that offers a tempting array of crafts - including ceramics, metalwork, textiles, jewellery and woodwork - for between [pounds sterling]10 and [pounds sterling]10,000 from more than 200 makers.

Although it is one of the better-established participating galleries, CAA displays the work of many young makers in the difficult early years of their careers. Mavrogordato says: "This will attract a variety of customers, but I'm really hoping it will start people off who think it would be difficult to make a purchase over [pounds sterling]1,000. If they can pay for a piece over 10 months, and still buy it at the price they saw in the gallery, that is a great deal.

Imagine making payments on your credit card over 10 months. You'd rack up quite a lot of interest."

The scheme will also facilitate the habits of seasoned collectors. Keith Seeley, a chartered accountant, is one of CAA's loyal customers.

Over the past 10 years he has bought paintings, ceramics, furniture, silver and glass, and plans to buy more frequently when he can collect using Own Art loans and may well spend more on each piece. "It's a terrific idea that will encourage people to get involved in buying original art," he says.

"The free loan encourages you to be more adventurous and it's a no-brainer to use Own Art rather than dip into your own funds.

"You're helping young designers make their way and it gives you an awful lot of pleasure to surround yourself with beautiful things. If you pick on someone who becomes quite successful, it can even be a good investment. I bought some ceramics by Simon Carroll a long time ago and he's done really well - he's now got a show at Tate St Ives." Seeley's next purchase? He has his eye on a Jim Partridge bench.

Art should be bought with the heart, but there is much financial benefit in discovering how to buy and sell efficiently. Nick Parnell advises on tax issues that arise when buying and selling art. …

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