Art Fund launches Wedgwood fundraising appeal - Museums Association

Art Fund launches Wedgwood fundraising appeal

Collection to be gifted to V&A but will remain on display in Staffordshire
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Rebecca Atkinson
The Art Fund has launched a public appeal to raise £2.74m to purchase the Wedgwood Collection for the nation.

The collection is at risk of being broken up and sold on the open market as an asset of the Wedgwood Museum Trust in Staffordshire to pay off the pension debt of now defunct parent company, Waterford Wedgwood.

Following several years of negotiations, Begbies Traynor, the administrator for the trust, has agreed to sell the collection to the nation for £15.75m – provided the sale can be completed by the end of November.

As a major funder of the Wedgwood Museum’s 2005 redevelopment, the Heritage Lottery Fund has a charge for £5.8m, which takes precedence over other creditors’ claims. It has agreed to transfer this towards the cost of the purchase and invest a further grant of up to £5m.

This £10.8m, together with a £1m grant from the Art Fund, a further £1m from a private trust and donations of £150,000 from two private foundations, leaves £2.74m still to be raised by 30 November.

The first £500,000 of public donations will be matched pound-for-pound by a private charitable trust.

Stephen Deuchar, the director of the Art Fund, said: “For several years we have been working with partners nationally and in Stoke to find a way to save the Wedgwood Collection from being broken up and sold off on the open market. Having explored all options, we have now negotiated to buy the complete collection at a fair price, enabling us to keep it together and on display locally and ensuring it is never put at risk again.”

If successful in its purchase, the Art Fund will gift the collection in title to the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London.

The V&A is in discussions with Waterford Wedgwood Royal Doulton, the company that now owns, manufactures and distributes the Wedgwood brand, regarding a long-term loan agreement to display the collection at the Wedgwood Museum’s new site in Barlaston, Staffordshire, which is due to open in spring 2015.

Bob Young, one of the joint administrators from Begbies Traynor, said: "Begbies Traynor is delighted to have been able to broker a deal that aims to save the Wedgwood Collection and keep it in North Staffordshire, while securing a fair deal for creditors.

"This could be a great example of the rescue culture working through the medium of administration in securing a successful outcome for all parties.”

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