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Own Art aims to make it more affordable to buy high-quality, original Contemporary art by offering interest-free loans of up to £2000 in 250 participating galleries across the country, as well as further galleries in Scotland.

Its introduction follows a pilot art purchase scheme last year. By encouraging sales of a wide range of Contemporary art, including painting, sculpture, photography, furniture, jewellery, glass and ceramics, Own Art aims to develop the Contemporary visual arts market in England, particularly outside London.

Within days of the scheme launching, Inspires Art Gallery of Oxford had enjoyed a very positive response. “As well as people picking up leaflets about the scheme and taking them away, we have had several sales,” said a spokesman. At least one of the sales was for a work of £1400.

The gallery, who had operated a more informal staggered payment system in the past, had nothing but praise for Own Art. “Before, we would keep a work of art in the back of the gallery until all the instalments had been paid. This way, however, the buyer can take the artwork away straight away and both the gallery and the artists get paid immediately.”

Arts Council research shows that there is the potential to double the existing market for original Contemporary visual art. The Taste Buds report (see panel, above, for key findings) identifies 4.9m people in England who have already bought and a further 5.9m who aspire to buy. Own Art hopes to tap into these people.

How to apply

The application process for a loan is fairly simple. The first thing to do is find something to buy at a participating gallery. Then, as long as you are over 18 years old, resident in the UK and have a bank or building society account that can operate standing orders, you can proceed.

Those wanting to take out a loan will need to take two forms of identification with them to the gallery – something with an address on it (passport, driver’s licence or utilities bill) and something with their signature on it, such as a credit or debit card.

It is then simply a matter of completing a credit agreement.

The maximum loan is £2000 but they can be as little as £100. They can form all or part of the purchase price.

It is possible to buy several items at a time, or one or more items at different times in different galleries providing the total amount owed does not exceed £2000 at any one time.

The amount borrowed is then paid back over a maximum of ten equal amounts.
Some galleries may ask for a deposit of 10 per cent. This will be returned if, for any reason, the application for credit is unsuccessful.

There are no extra costs.

Sir Christopher Frayling, who chairs Arts Council England, said: “We want the arts to be at the heart of our national life and I believe that Own Art can bring about a real change in the way we engage with the Contemporary visual arts.

“The art market outside London is underdeveloped yet we know there is enormous scope for growth. Many more people will now be able to enjoy living with original, high-quality Contemporary art in their own homes. Art needn’t be restricted to big white-painted gallery spaces.”