Alan Davey, the chief executive of the Arts Council of England, has today accused Croydon Council of being “short-sighted” over its pawn-shop sale of 24 items from the publicly owned Riesco Collection.
Davey also promised to argue further with Tory-run Croydon Council against what he sees as a counter-productive sale.
Our Philistine council pushed through its proposals to flog off part of the collection of priceless China and porcelain last week, flying in the face of advice of experts and funding bodies, including the Museums Association, the Heritage Lottery Fund, and Davey’s Arts Council.
Croydon thinks it can raise £13 million from the auction, but it risks losing the Museum of Croydon’s nationally recognised accreditation, and nearly £1 million in public grants which helped to pay for establishing the Riesco gallery at the Clocktower.
Most damaging of all, though, is reckoned to be to Croydon’s already badly scarred reputation.
“The Arts Council strongly believes that publicly owned art is a valuable part of our cultural heritage and plays an important role in making art accessible to many people who would not otherwise experience it,” Davey said in an online question and answer session organised by The Guardian newspaper.
“The social and economic benefits far outweigh the short-term gain of money realised from a sale, and we’ll be arguing that case with any council that proposes that kind of short-sighted sale.”
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