Abu Dhabi’s The National reports on an interesting UK scheme to fund art purchases with interest-free loans:
Own Art, launched by the Arts Council England (ACE) five years ago to help make art accessible and affordable to all, provides interest-free loans from £100 (Dh557) to £2,000 (Dh11,148), repayable over 10 months in equal instalments, for people wishing to purchase works of art and craft including paintings, photography, sculpture, glassware and furniture by contemporary artists.
“The initiative was a response to an identified need to remove the financial obstacle that some people experience which would otherwise mean that they couldn’t access art,” said Mary-Alice Stack, the development manager for ACE. “In addition, the scheme helps the arts economy by supporting commercial galleries and encouraging increased sales of contemporary art which in turn provides a very valuable income for artists living and working in the UK.”
Since its inception, more than £10.5 million (Dh58.5m) worth of art has been purchased through the scheme and more than £6.5m (Dh36m) worth of income for up-and-coming artists has been generated through 12,500 loans. Own Art constitutes a market revolution, enabling a newly empowered generation of art enthusiasts to appreciate contemporary works not just in the confines of a gallery but in their own homes. [ . . . ]
More than a quarter of sales in the Own Art scheme have been to first-time buyers, and 26 per cent of loans have been taken by customers with incomes equal to or below the UK national average. Some people are using the scheme to buy art as an investment, but according to Stack “the majority of people using the scheme are buying works because having original contemporary art is important to them on a personal level. Own Art is really about people considering buying contemporary art as a way of enhancing their own home and deepening their involvement and interest in contemporary art. For the majority of people, it is a personal pleasure rather than an investment opportunity.”
“The scheme is very much in demand now and the indication is that it will continue to be in demand throughout this period of economic crisis,” Stack says. [ . . . ]
Young people – who are arguably more accustomed to the pay-in-instalments culture – have also been attracted to the scheme. The Pump House Gallery curator Sandra Ross believes that spending habits among the youth are changing. “Buying a piece of art instead of putting the money into savings or going on holiday is becoming more popular. Young people may also like the idea of supporting emerging artists,” she says.
John Simmons, who has used Own Art for a purchase, says: “As a student, I could never afford to have taken £300-400 out of my account. But the idea of £30 being taken out every month isn’t so bad. That’s the equivalent of a few packets of cigarettes or a night out in London.
“I’m now staying in a lot more to try and watch the pennies. It’s easier to do that and to invite people over when you have an eye-catching piece of art on the wall. It’s a real talking point.”
Art’s Best Interest (The National)