Art sell off call after cash strapped council puts £20m Henry Moore statue up for sale

Daily Echo: Henry Moore's Draped Seated Woman Henry Moore's Draped Seated Woman

CASH strapped chiefs in Southampton have been urged to rethink the sale of public art to pay the bills after one of London’s poorest boroughs decided to sell a £20m sculpture.

A controversial plan to sell off valuable masterpieces lying hidden in Southampton’s Civic Centre was shelved two years ago in the face of fierce opposition.

But last night there were renewed calls for art to be sold in the city as Labour council leaders finalise plans to tackle the city’s worst ever financial crisis.

The debate has been revived by a decision by Tower Hamlets council to sell a Henry Moore bronze sculpture valued at up to £20m to plug a £100m budget deficit over the next three years.

Mayor Lutfur Rahman overruled councillors to make the “tough decision” to sell the 1957 sculpture titled “Draped Seated Woman”, but known to locals as “Old Flo”.

The work has been on loan to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park for the past 15 years.

Mayor Rahman said the proceeds could be used to fund local heritage projects, affordable housing, community safety or improve opportunities and prospects of youngsters.

The decision has provoked a strong reaction from leading figures in the art world, including Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle. They have urged Tower Hamlets to rethink the sale of “family silver” for short-term financial gain. Mayor of London Boris Johnson has also called on the council to reconsider.

A plan in Southampton by the then ruling Conservatives to raise up to £7m by selling a Rodin sculpture and Munnings painting similarly saw the city labelled as philistines by the art world.

The city’s former leisure boss Cllr John Hannides attempted to revive the plan in September but it was ruled out by Labour councillors who are now in charge of the city.

They claimed the proposal was still unworkable and a waste of time, and would damage the city’s reputation and jeopardise future arts funding.

Cllr Hannides said last night: “There are surplus items and it doesn’t make makes sense for them to be stored in vaults never to be seen when at the same time we know the city would benefit considerably from £10m to support our investment in arts and culture.

“If there are similar proposals elsewhere in the country then it would be sensible for those in public office (in Southampton) to consider that as a way of financing those kinds of investments.”

Cllr Hannides said selling non-core items from the council’s £180m, 3,500-piece collection could help fund a flagship £21m arts complex at Guildhall Square or safeguard frontline services by freeing up interest payments on council borrowing.

He said times and attitudes had changed and legal hurdles and red tape had been overcome or relaxed.

Conditions now in place would make sure any sale would not harm the art gallery’s national status, he said.

Stephen Boyce, chairman of Culture Southampton and a former deputy director at the Heritage Lottery Fund, recently told the Daily Echo he would be supportive of selling some art from the extensive collection with the right safeguards, if it was identified as not relevant and money raised went for arts projects.

But council leader Richard Williams last night told the Daily Echo: “In light of what has happened in Tower Hamlets I have had some people to look into the issue but it is not as straight forward as it sounds.

“While it is technically possible, once you start to sell off art, you lose the accreditation with the Heritage Lottery Fund to bid for new art.

“It is also not an easy fix for the council’s finances because any money that we would get from the sale of art would go into our capital budget but it is our revenue budget, to pay for salaries and services, which is our priority.

“If the sale of art did provide a solution to our revenue problem then that would be very interesting.”

Labour leaders in Southampton will on Monday unveil draft budget proposals to plug an estimated £26m budget deficit in the next financial year as a Government funding squeeze tightens.

One senior Cabinet member has privately told the Echo he would be open to the idea of selling art work to ease future budget pressures.

Comments (9)

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11:24am Fri 9 Nov 12

Sotonians_lets_pull_together says...

Absolutely no way should we be selling off our assets, such as the art collection.

You can only make money from selling assets once, and then they are gone, leaving the city impoverished, and not fixing the underlying problem. You will still have the same problem next year - more likely it will have got worse, as there will have been less of an incentive to get costs under control.

The only solution is to cut the ongoing council costs so they are in line with receipts.

It is such a shame for council workers that Labour got control of the council. It would have been far better for workers to each lose a little money, and for many more to keep their jobs.

We knew what was going to happen if Labour got in, but the turkeys voted for Christmas, and the council workers will now sadly reap what they have sown with their strikes and campaigns against the councillors who were doing their level best to preserve jobs.
Absolutely no way should we be selling off our assets, such as the art collection. You can only make money from selling assets once, and then they are gone, leaving the city impoverished, and not fixing the underlying problem. You will still have the same problem next year - more likely it will have got worse, as there will have been less of an incentive to get costs under control. The only solution is to cut the ongoing council costs so they are in line with receipts. It is such a shame for council workers that Labour got control of the council. It would have been far better for workers to each lose a little money, and for many more to keep their jobs. We knew what was going to happen if Labour got in, but the turkeys voted for Christmas, and the council workers will now sadly reap what they have sown with their strikes and campaigns against the councillors who were doing their level best to preserve jobs. Sotonians_lets_pull_together

11:29am Fri 9 Nov 12

Sotonians_lets_pull_together says...

The message we need to send to such "senior council members" is that by selling off our art, they will not be buying votes, but advertising that they are not competent to run the council finances"

If these councillors are not brave enough to take the tough decisions to balance the budget, then maybe they should resign, and leave the job to people who can.

One off asset sales will NOT solve the problem, just brush it under the carpet for a year or so, by which time it will have got worse, and there will be no art to sell next time.

In my view anyone who advocates selling the city's art treasures betrays the city and its heritage.
The message we need to send to such "senior council members" is that by selling off our art, they will not be buying votes, but advertising that they are not competent to run the council finances" If these councillors are not brave enough to take the tough decisions to balance the budget, then maybe they should resign, and leave the job to people who can. One off asset sales will NOT solve the problem, just brush it under the carpet for a year or so, by which time it will have got worse, and there will be no art to sell next time. In my view anyone who advocates selling the city's art treasures betrays the city and its heritage. Sotonians_lets_pull_together

11:34am Fri 9 Nov 12

Lone Ranger. says...

Sotonians_lets_pull_
together
wrote:
The message we need to send to such "senior council members" is that by selling off our art, they will not be buying votes, but advertising that they are not competent to run the council finances"

If these councillors are not brave enough to take the tough decisions to balance the budget, then maybe they should resign, and leave the job to people who can.

One off asset sales will NOT solve the problem, just brush it under the carpet for a year or so, by which time it will have got worse, and there will be no art to sell next time.

In my view anyone who advocates selling the city's art treasures betrays the city and its heritage.
So where is you complete and utter condemnation of Cllr Hannides who is suggesting (once again) that these items should be sold.
.
[quote][p][bold]Sotonians_lets_pull_ together[/bold] wrote: The message we need to send to such "senior council members" is that by selling off our art, they will not be buying votes, but advertising that they are not competent to run the council finances" If these councillors are not brave enough to take the tough decisions to balance the budget, then maybe they should resign, and leave the job to people who can. One off asset sales will NOT solve the problem, just brush it under the carpet for a year or so, by which time it will have got worse, and there will be no art to sell next time. In my view anyone who advocates selling the city's art treasures betrays the city and its heritage.[/p][/quote]So where is you complete and utter condemnation of Cllr Hannides who is suggesting (once again) that these items should be sold. . Lone Ranger.

11:50am Fri 9 Nov 12

Sotonians_lets_pull_together says...

Lone Ranger,

I dont think we should be selling off the art full stop.

The new arts quarter should be funded from the capital budget and by bringing in outside investment.

However, at least Cllr Hannides is advocating using the sale of art for capital arts projects which would significantly enhance the city, and it is one asset it being sold to deliver another.

It is disgraceful to contemplate selling art to fix the revenue budget, as Richard Williams seems to be suggesting he would find more attractive.
Lone Ranger, I dont think we should be selling off the art full stop. The new arts quarter should be funded from the capital budget and by bringing in outside investment. However, at least Cllr Hannides is advocating using the sale of art for capital arts projects which would significantly enhance the city, and it is one asset it being sold to deliver another. It is disgraceful to contemplate selling art to fix the revenue budget, as Richard Williams seems to be suggesting he would find more attractive. Sotonians_lets_pull_together

11:55am Fri 9 Nov 12

sotonboy84 says...

Absolutely no way should any of the city's art work be sold off. Once it's gone. It's gone forever.

I know this is just a view from the vile waste of space that is Hannides who has no control over the decision but it does raise the important issue that we need to protect our collection for good, once and for all so future councils can't keep dipping into it when they're cash strapped. The collection belongs to the city, and not the council as the Echo have printed. We have one of the best collections outside of London and we should be taking full advantage of that. Yes, a lot of work isn't on display but rotating the collection is easy enough to do but not if the art work is sold as there would be none left to rotate. With such an important and valuable collection it's not just about putting everything on display at one time as this wouldn't attract returning visitors and also it would be too high a target for theft and damage to have such a huge collection on display at any one time. The art gallery was designed and built about 80 years ago, and the collection and people's perception of it was a lot smaller. If the council used the collection properly then they could have masses of visitors to the city. They could even have extended the gallery into the old law courts which would have been a wonderful addition to the gallery, instead of a monstrous museum that seems to focus on a sunken ship that passed through Southampton…

Who cares if Tower Hamlets has sold a piece of art, they're nothing to do with Southampton and do not have an art collection as important as ours. The collection should not suffer and the people of this city denied what is there's due to the failings of the running of the council's.

Hopefully there will be no way that the art can be sold and hopefully somebody will realise how much money can be realised from the collection through displaying it and loaning pieces of it.
Absolutely no way should any of the city's art work be sold off. Once it's gone. It's gone forever. I know this is just a view from the vile waste of space that is Hannides who has no control over the decision but it does raise the important issue that we need to protect our collection for good, once and for all so future councils can't keep dipping into it when they're cash strapped. The collection belongs to the city, and not the council as the Echo have printed. We have one of the best collections outside of London and we should be taking full advantage of that. Yes, a lot of work isn't on display but rotating the collection is easy enough to do but not if the art work is sold as there would be none left to rotate. With such an important and valuable collection it's not just about putting everything on display at one time as this wouldn't attract returning visitors and also it would be too high a target for theft and damage to have such a huge collection on display at any one time. The art gallery was designed and built about 80 years ago, and the collection and people's perception of it was a lot smaller. If the council used the collection properly then they could have masses of visitors to the city. They could even have extended the gallery into the old law courts which would have been a wonderful addition to the gallery, instead of a monstrous museum that seems to focus on a sunken ship that passed through Southampton… Who cares if Tower Hamlets has sold a piece of art, they're nothing to do with Southampton and do not have an art collection as important as ours. The collection should not suffer and the people of this city denied what is there's due to the failings of the running of the council's. Hopefully there will be no way that the art can be sold and hopefully somebody will realise how much money can be realised from the collection through displaying it and loaning pieces of it. sotonboy84

12:05pm Fri 9 Nov 12

Sotonians_lets_pull_together says...

sotonboy84 wrote:
Absolutely no way should any of the city's art work be sold off. Once it's gone. It's gone forever.

I know this is just a view from the vile waste of space that is Hannides who has no control over the decision but it does raise the important issue that we need to protect our collection for good, once and for all so future councils can't keep dipping into it when they're cash strapped. The collection belongs to the city, and not the council as the Echo have printed. We have one of the best collections outside of London and we should be taking full advantage of that. Yes, a lot of work isn't on display but rotating the collection is easy enough to do but not if the art work is sold as there would be none left to rotate. With such an important and valuable collection it's not just about putting everything on display at one time as this wouldn't attract returning visitors and also it would be too high a target for theft and damage to have such a huge collection on display at any one time. The art gallery was designed and built about 80 years ago, and the collection and people's perception of it was a lot smaller. If the council used the collection properly then they could have masses of visitors to the city. They could even have extended the gallery into the old law courts which would have been a wonderful addition to the gallery, instead of a monstrous museum that seems to focus on a sunken ship that passed through Southampton…

Who cares if Tower Hamlets has sold a piece of art, they're nothing to do with Southampton and do not have an art collection as important as ours. The collection should not suffer and the people of this city denied what is there's due to the failings of the running of the council's.

Hopefully there will be no way that the art can be sold and hopefully somebody will realise how much money can be realised from the collection through displaying it and loaning pieces of it.
Well said sotonboy84
[quote][p][bold]sotonboy84[/bold] wrote: Absolutely no way should any of the city's art work be sold off. Once it's gone. It's gone forever. I know this is just a view from the vile waste of space that is Hannides who has no control over the decision but it does raise the important issue that we need to protect our collection for good, once and for all so future councils can't keep dipping into it when they're cash strapped. The collection belongs to the city, and not the council as the Echo have printed. We have one of the best collections outside of London and we should be taking full advantage of that. Yes, a lot of work isn't on display but rotating the collection is easy enough to do but not if the art work is sold as there would be none left to rotate. With such an important and valuable collection it's not just about putting everything on display at one time as this wouldn't attract returning visitors and also it would be too high a target for theft and damage to have such a huge collection on display at any one time. The art gallery was designed and built about 80 years ago, and the collection and people's perception of it was a lot smaller. If the council used the collection properly then they could have masses of visitors to the city. They could even have extended the gallery into the old law courts which would have been a wonderful addition to the gallery, instead of a monstrous museum that seems to focus on a sunken ship that passed through Southampton… Who cares if Tower Hamlets has sold a piece of art, they're nothing to do with Southampton and do not have an art collection as important as ours. The collection should not suffer and the people of this city denied what is there's due to the failings of the running of the council's. Hopefully there will be no way that the art can be sold and hopefully somebody will realise how much money can be realised from the collection through displaying it and loaning pieces of it.[/p][/quote]Well said sotonboy84 Sotonians_lets_pull_together

2:10pm Fri 9 Nov 12

Subject48 says...

I have never seen any of this so called "art". As you have well pointed out, its not utilised to its full potential and is not displayed.

I have however, seen my bins not being taken out regulary amongs other things
I have never seen any of this so called "art". As you have well pointed out, its not utilised to its full potential and is not displayed. I have however, seen my bins not being taken out regulary amongs other things Subject48

2:29pm Fri 9 Nov 12

freemantlegirl2 says...

Sotonians_lets_pull_
together
wrote:
Lone Ranger,

I dont think we should be selling off the art full stop.

The new arts quarter should be funded from the capital budget and by bringing in outside investment.

However, at least Cllr Hannides is advocating using the sale of art for capital arts projects which would significantly enhance the city, and it is one asset it being sold to deliver another.

It is disgraceful to contemplate selling art to fix the revenue budget, as Richard Williams seems to be suggesting he would find more attractive.
Cllr Williams is NOT suggesting to plug the revenue budget. Read it, he said 'if' the art was sold it would HAVE to go into the capital budget pot and not the revenue pot, which is where the deficit lies. He's right to look into it to prove why it's not right but not even viable and it would not solve any problems anyway.

what I'd like to know is whether the Sea City Museum is actually raising any 'revenue'?????
[quote][p][bold]Sotonians_lets_pull_ together[/bold] wrote: Lone Ranger, I dont think we should be selling off the art full stop. The new arts quarter should be funded from the capital budget and by bringing in outside investment. However, at least Cllr Hannides is advocating using the sale of art for capital arts projects which would significantly enhance the city, and it is one asset it being sold to deliver another. It is disgraceful to contemplate selling art to fix the revenue budget, as Richard Williams seems to be suggesting he would find more attractive.[/p][/quote]Cllr Williams is NOT suggesting to plug the revenue budget. Read it, he said 'if' the art was sold it would HAVE to go into the capital budget pot and not the revenue pot, which is where the deficit lies. He's right to look into it to prove why it's not right but not even viable and it would not solve any problems anyway. what I'd like to know is whether the Sea City Museum is actually raising any 'revenue'????? freemantlegirl2

3:54pm Fri 9 Nov 12

sotonboy84 says...

Subject48 wrote:
I have never seen any of this so called "art". As you have well pointed out, its not utilised to its full potential and is not displayed. I have however, seen my bins not being taken out regulary amongs other things
It does need to be utilised more but the important thing is that we have a wonderful collection of 3500 pieces, last valued at £180 million.
The subject of selling shouldn't ever be a possibility as utilising the collection and showing more and rotating more will bring people from all over the country and the world to see it, more than any museum or arts complex will.
I remember seeing Henri Rousseau's 'Tiger in a Tropical Storm' at the gallery about 20 years ago which was on loan from the National Gallery, I believe. This one painting was an exhibit on its own and attracted thousands of visitors from all over the country. Just imagine that if our very own collection was utilised more, what an attraction it could be and how much revenue that could create. We would still have our collection, be making money from it and give Southampton a name in the art world – more than an arts complex/quarter could ever do on its own.
[quote][p][bold]Subject48[/bold] wrote: I have never seen any of this so called "art". As you have well pointed out, its not utilised to its full potential and is not displayed. I have however, seen my bins not being taken out regulary amongs other things[/p][/quote]It does need to be utilised more but the important thing is that we have a wonderful collection of 3500 pieces, last valued at £180 million. The subject of selling shouldn't ever be a possibility as utilising the collection and showing more and rotating more will bring people from all over the country and the world to see it, more than any museum or arts complex will. I remember seeing Henri Rousseau's 'Tiger in a Tropical Storm' at the gallery about 20 years ago which was on loan from the National Gallery, I believe. This one painting was an exhibit on its own and attracted thousands of visitors from all over the country. Just imagine that if our very own collection was utilised more, what an attraction it could be and how much revenue that could create. We would still have our collection, be making money from it and give Southampton a name in the art world – more than an arts complex/quarter could ever do on its own. sotonboy84

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