A trip to the Bankside Gallery this weekend allowed not only a viewing of the Royal Watercolour Society’s Autumn Exhibition, which it is currently hosting, but also the opportunity to see the Own Art programme in action.
For those who aren’t in the know, Own Art is the Arts Council England scheme which aims to make it easy and affordable for everyone to buy a contemporary work of art. The scheme is run by the Arts Council through its trading company ArtCo Trading Ltd in partnership with by Hitachi Capital Consumer Finance. To summarise; you can apply for a loan for any amount between £100 – £2,000 to buy a piece of art, the credit is provided by Hitachi and then you pay back the amount you borrow in equal instalments over 10 months interest free. The loan is interest free as it is subsidised by the Arts Council who pays the interest to the bank instead of you.
The scheme can be used to buy most pieces of contemporary art, including paintings, sculptures, textiles, jewellery, fashion, furniture, glass, ceramics and multi media works as well as prints and multiples, so long as they are in limited edition. But, the artists must be living.
Seeing the scheme in practice, it is easy to be seduced by the sudden affordability of some great pieces of art, which in other circumstance would seem far out of reach – especially when the price besides each work is helpfully broken down into 10 monthly instalments. I was certainly tempted by several works and figured that if I did take advantage of the scheme I would easily be able justify the monthly outgoings by, for example, reducing my night outs each month by one.
However, despite the apparent ease with which art can be acquired, it is important not to forget or ignore the legal side. A loan agreement is a legally binding agreement to repay a certain amount of money. Therefore, applicants to the scheme must ensure that they are fully aware of what they are agreeing to do and the penalties for defaulting on the loan. There is also the matter of the purchase agreement with the gallery. The purchaser should be clear on issues such as when the title and risk in the artwork pass and whether there are any there are any conditions on resale of the work,
On the other side, the galleries which are members of the scheme are bound certain legal obligations as well as the Own Art Scheme Rules. For instance, they are required, under the Consumer Credit Act 1974, to hold a Standard Licence covering at least credit brokerage as they will be involved in activities relating to credit. Indeed, failure to hold such a licence at all times may amount to a criminal offence and result in the inability of that gallery to carry out any consumer credit business in the future. The galleries also have to be independently registered with the Office of the Information Commissioner for data protection activities particular to their business.
Thus, by all means invest in some eye-catching art, but always keep your other eye on the legal picture.
Kata Tjunta (Australia) by Simon Pierse
Currently on display at the Bankside Gallery
Price: £780.00 or £78/month for 10 months through Own Art
All the details of the Own Art scheme here.