IN the next week or so, the British Government must decide whether 2010 or 2012 is the right time for the Artist’s Resale Right to be extended to the heirs of artists who have been dead for less than 70 years.
The Right, a tax levied on commercial sales of art sold above certain price thresholds, is payable on the entire price paid regardless of whether the vendor is making a profit or a loss.
ATG have campaigned vigorously and openly in support of the British Art Market Federation and other art industry bodies against the 2010 extension because we believe that any further burden added to what is already an unfair tax would prove highly damaging to the art market.
We have set our position many times in print. It is a position supported both by the report we sponsored in January and the Intellectual Property Office’s report, commissioned by the Government and published earlier this year, which supported the 2012 date.
The Government have already given an unambiguous commitment in parliament to delaying the extension of the Right until 2012.
However, there now appears to have been a serious attempt to undermine this commitment in the public consultation process, where Culture Minister David Lammy has announced that 90 per cent of the 400 responses supported the 2010 option.
This has been interpreted by the Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS), who lead the campaign for the 2010 argument, as being evidence that 90 per cent of the art industry support their view.
However, it now transpires that the collective submissions made by BAMF and the other trade associations, who between them represent thousands of members, have only been counted as one response each – in other words they have been given no more weight than the views of a single individual responding.
Where does that leave the 90 per cent figure?
With the recent serious downturn in the art market, and redundancies already happening, this is not the time to put any more of the 40,000 art industry jobs at risk. After all, even Damien Hirst is reported to be laying off his support staff now.