Friday - 31 October 2014

ARR postcard campaign starts to hit home

12 June 2012Written by Ivan Macquisten

Close to 800 postcards in the Artist’s Resale Right campaign have already arrived at the Department of Culture, with more on the way.

What is not yet clear, however, is whether the government will act over the threshold at which the ARR applies - the campaign calls for it to be raised from €1000 to €3000.

Art dealer Niall Fairhead, who has spearheaded the latest campaign against the ARR and created the postcard sent out to subscribers last month in ATG No 2040, has now received a letter from the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), the government agency responsible for the copyright framework, and for the regulations around ARR.

"I believe we have received somewhere in the region of 777 postcards on this topic, so I should probably congratulate you on a successful campaign," says IPO official Matt Cope.

Mr Cope proposes issuing a single ministerial reply to those who have written in, even though many, if not all, will have sent personal messages making individual points on the ARR.

Mr Fairhead has advised Mr Cope, however, that a blanket ministerial response may not be acceptable.

"Because the team in our campaign regards this as not a trifling matter I feel that before replying to your request I must consult with my colleagues... they might feel that the parties who have sent in their individual postcards do, each and every one of them, deserve a proper explanation and reply as to why our government is not trying to save them from extinction. I am therefore copying in my reply to the main 'steadfasts' in this matter and perhaps I can get back to you once I have taken soundings on their opinions.

"Needless to say, because all our livelihoods are at stake, the campaign will be continuing until such time as every stone has been turned to achieve our objective in raising the threshold. Once this has been done our energies will be directed towards the EU review in 2014 when the extent of loss of art business to the Economic Union is being archived. At that time we will, as a group, be seeking to have the Directive reversed."

Meanwhile, Mr Fairhead's online petition has attracted the attention of UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, who, as signatory number 1106, writes: "The ARR is a monstrous EU-imposition, which I doubt the incumbent HMG has any power, or desire, to oppose."

As we reported in ATG No 2040, however, the EU directive imposing the ARR and its extension to the estates of dead artists allows for a threshold of €3000 and it was the British government which chose to 'gold plate' the directive - something it generally advises against doing - introducing a threshold of only €1000 after vigorous lobbying from the collection societies.

This means that the threshold can still be adjusted to €3000 easily, without going against the directive, a move that would greatly benefit smaller dealers trading at the lower-value end of the market as well as cutting down significantly on red tape for all.

Antiques Trade Gazette is the weekly bible of the fine art and antiques industry. Read articles like this every week in the Antiques Trade Gazette or ATG app. Click here to subscribe today.

Back to top