Southampton sale does not meet MA's code of ethics

Patrick Steel, 23.09.2009
The MA's ethics committee has told Southampton City Council that it is 'not persuaded' that plans to sell works of art from its collections constitute a last resort, so currently its proposals do not meet the MA's code…
Caitlin Griffiths, the MA's head of professional issues, said: "The key requirement that they have not met at this time is that all other funding sources should be explored and any sale should be a last resort.

"Southampton is still at a relatively early stage in the process, and we have suggested that we revisit this particular requirement once they have had an opportunity to fully explore any available sources of funding.

"We know the sector is sensitive to this issue and will be watching the outcome closely. The MA is committed to working with Southampton to support them in working within the requirements of the code."

The council has identified three works that it would consider selling: After the Race by Alfred J. Munnings, Eve by Auguste Rodin, and Crouching Woman also by Auguste Rodin. It estimates the Munnings to be worth between £2m and £4m, Eve to be worth between £1m and £1.5m and Crouching Woman to be worth between £300,000 and £400,000.

The money would go towards the creation of a cultural quarter in Southampton City Centre, including a new museum telling the story of Titanic.

The Heritage Lottery Fund, which has granted £496,000 of development funding towards a potential £4.5m application, has questioned whether the proceeds of the sale of heritage should be used to create partnership funding.

The council also faces legal complications over the sale of the Munnings after it was revealed to have been bought through the Chipperfield Bequest Fund, the terms of which require any sums realised through sale to be reinvested in art for the collection.

A statement from the Tate, which has responsibility for providing advice in relation to the Chipperfield request, said: "We believe the sale of works acquired through the Chipperfield Bequest to raise funds towards a capital project is not advisable and, indeed, not in the spirit of the Bequest."

A Southampton City Council vote last week saw 25 councillors voting in favour of the plans to sell the works to fund the cultural quarter, with 20 councillors voting against.

For full text of advice to Southampton, click here (word)