Funding the Tate: A £134m achievement

With £6m a year to raise, the budget of Tate Modern will require constant effort


Tate Modern cost £134m, making it the most expensive visual arts project ever undertaken in Britain. As we went to press, £129m had been raised and the full amount was expected to be in by the opening on 12 May. To do this, the museum has had to be pretty rigorous in its fundraising. For example, to have a pre-opening tour with Nick Serota or Lars Nittve would have set US afficionados back $1,500 a couple, because the capo dei capi and the director were delighted to do it, but the condition was that you joined the US Friends of the Tate.

In 1995 the Lottery’s Millennium Commission set the ball rolling, with a massive £50m award. The following year the Tate acquired Bankside Power Station and removed its machinery, thanks to £12m from English Partnerships, the government’s urban regeneration agency. Last year the Arts Council Lottery Fund awarded £6m for a suite of galleries on Level 4 for temporary exhibitions. Private donors and trusts provided nearly all the remaining £59m. Just over half this sum came from Britain, with the remainder from abroad, particularly the US. Two-thirds of the £59m was donated by twenty-four Founding Benefactors (see The Art Newspaper, No. 97, November 1999, p. 12).

Running costs for Tate Modern are estimated at £12m a year

Running costs for Tate Modern are estimated at £12m a year. In February, Culture Secretary Chris Smith announced that he would be increasing the Tate’s grant-in-aid by £5m in the new financial year (and £6m a year after that). This will be in addition to the £20m a year grant-in-aid towards funding the current operation—Millbank (now Tate Britain), Tate Liverpool, Tate St Ives and the overall Tate administration.

Tate Modern will still have to raise around £6m a year from its own sources, including donations, sponsorship and income from shops and catering. The trustees have reaffirmed that admission to Tate Modern’s permanent collection will be free of charge.

Money for buying art

The Tate has been spending about £1.9m per annum in recent years; this sum varies according to how much money the Heritage Lottery Fund and the National Art Collections Fund have been able to contribute to its funding from public money. The Patrons of New Art provide in the region of £80,000 a year, plus the special purchase fund that is normally £20,000 to £30,000 a year. Patrons of British Art raise about £60,000 a year and Friends of the Tate Gallery provide about £250,000. The American Fund for the Tate Gallery provides about $400,000 per annum. These by no means lavish sums explain why Nicholas Serota has been working so hard to get works by, for example, the big and expensive names of American art presented to the museum.

• Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper with the headline "A £134 million achievement"


We use cookies to personalise content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners who may combine it with other information that you’ve provided to them or that they’ve collected from your use of their services. Read our Cookie Policy for more information.