As UK regional museums face further cuts in government funding, the London-based dealers Ivor Braka and Thomas Dane have donated six major works by contemporary British artists to the Whitworth gallery in Manchester.
Race Hate, a series of posters by Gilbert & George created from newspaper headlines about racial tension, an appliqué blanket by Tracey Emin and Rebecca Warren’s wall-mounted vitrine work for the 2006 Turner Prize are among the gifts announced today (20 November). Their combined value is estimated at “well over £500,000”, according to a spokeswoman.
The dealers hope their donation will encourage others to support the arts outside of London. “Since the donations by late 19th-century industrialists there have been few significant gains from philanthropists to our regional collections, with some notable exceptions such as the Sainsbury Centre in Norwich,” Braka and Dane said in a statement. “Charitable giving by individuals in this country needs to be encouraged and this also requires the effort of government.”
The pair said the UK had a long way to go before catching up with philanthropy in the US. “In America every major city—Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, Detroit, Seattle, among others—has a major museum, often comparable to a national museum in terms of both quality and scope,” they noted.
Braka and Dane credit Maria Balshaw, who has been the director of the Whitworth since 2006, with injecting new life into the gallery: “The Whitworth, under Maria Balshaw's leadership, has sought to address this situation and we hope it will serve as an encouraging example of what can be achieved with focus and determination.”
The new Whitworth gallery reopened in February after a £15m revamp and was shortly after crowned museum of the year by The Art Fund. The building was also nominated for the RIBA Stirling Prize.
Braka, who was born in Manchester and is a leading dealer of works by Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and Frank Auerbach, donated the pieces by Gilbert & George and Emin. Dane, who owns the eponymous contemporary art gallery in London, gave the work by Warren as well as those by Michael Landy, Paul Graham and Anya Gallaccio, who is due to create a new work for the Whitworth next spring.