Tate struggles to attract money for acquisitions

A year ago the gallery launched a campaign to raise £100 million. Since then, £50,000 has been pledged from donors


The Tate’s acquisitions campaign, launched on 25 October last year, has made some progress, although there is still a considerable way to go. A year ago an endowment fund for acquisitions was set up, with the ambitious target of raising up to £100 million in 10 years. It was also hoped to attract the donation of 100 major works of art during this period. Initial contributions were reported a year ago: £1 million from Tate Members, promised bequests of four important works from private collectors, firm commitments from four artists and future promises from 23 more artists.

In terms of money, the fund has grown by £10,050,000 during the past year. However, £10 million of this was the windfall income gained from the insurance pay-out over the two stolen Turner paintings, which were recovered after the Tate had bought back legal ownership.

Although the money has now been allocated for acquisitions, and represents a major contribution towards the endowment target, it can hardly be said to have come as a result of the “building the collection” initiative. During the past year there was one individual donation of £50,000 for the endowment.

In terms of pledges from artists, five works on paper have been donated by Richard Long and a painting by Paula Rego. A further artist, R.B. Kitaj, has added his name to those who have promised suitable works, when these are available.

One historic masterpiece, Reynolds’ The Archers, has been acquired. It is recorded as one of the acquisition initiative’s successes, although it would presumably have been bought even without the current campaign, once the funding organisations had agreed to assist. Of the £3.2 million cost, £2.5 million came from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Tate Members and the National Art Collections Fund. The final £700,000 was from Sir Harry Djanogly and other private donors.

Last month a Tate spokesperson said that progress on the acquisition initiative over the past year might appear slightly deceptive, “because there are some important pledges of works of art in the pipeline.”