Culture, Media and Sport Committee

Session 2004-05

6 April 2005

Sixth Report

The Market for Art

The Culture, Media and Sport Committee today publishes its Sixth Report, The Market for Art  (HC 414). Publication is at 10.00am with a press conference in the Thatcher Room, Portcullis House.

The present inquiry has focused on the inter-relationship of artist and art market, and the encouragement of new and innovative work. Government and the Arts Councils, industry and artists, should all work together to establish best practice guidelines to secure contracts that are fair to artists and art market professionals alike.

A particular focus of industry concerns has been the forthcoming transposition of EU legislation, introducing royalty payments when work is resold. We believe that this artists’ resale right, or droit de suite,  should be implemented in a way that provides a significant number of artists with an additional source of income; and that this should be possible without adversely affecting the UK’s vibrant art market.

Above all, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport must signal and promote the arts throughout Government. The arts can help meet cultural objectives, both locally, nationally and internationally; and this would be better achieved were they to have an effective champion in Government. It is time for Government to commit itself to a flourishing arts scene. And nowhere will such a commitment be more visible than in the visual arts.

Among the Committee’s 18 conclusions and recommendations are the following:

Best practice

We recommend that the Government establish a forum of interested individuals, including artists, dealers and auction houses, to work towards identifying key areas of agreed best practice in contractual relationships between artists and art market professionals. Compliance with the code of practice that emerges should be a prerequisite for the receipt of public funds. (Paragraph 38)

Droit de suite

We are not intrinsically opposed to the introduction of the artists’ resale right into UK law, though we do believe it should not benefit solely the richest artists. We recommend that the Government lowers the threshold at which the resale right applies from 3,000 to 1,000 euros. (Paragraph 55)

We recommend that the Government apply a royalty rate of 5% to the price band up to 50,000 euros. (Paragraph 57)

The Government should renew its efforts to achieve universal adoption of droit de suite, through all available international channels. (Paragraph 45)


Auction houses represent an important sector of the art market in the UK. However, some of the relevant legislation dates back to 1845. We believe a review is overdue.  (Paragraph 34)

Supporting the public sector

We strongly support the four Arts Councils having continued status as distributors of National Lottery funds. (Paragraph 70)

We recommend an extension of the Gift Aid arrangements, so that donations of significant art works to public collections can be offset against income tax. (Paragraph 61)

We note that the DCMS has implemented the [recommendations of Sir Nicholas Goodison’s review on support for museums and galleries] in so far as they apply to the Department. We look to the Treasury to follow suit. Where it does not do so, justification, if any, for the corresponding decisions should be published. (Paragraph 62)