icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm

UK govt defends buying expensive paintings as ‘promotion of culture’ after dismayed Labour MPs blast £90,000 price tag

UK govt defends buying expensive paintings as ‘promotion of culture’ after dismayed Labour MPs blast £90,000 price tag
The UK government has defended buying pricey artwork by insisting it does so to promote British culture, after Labour MPs accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of being “selfish” amid upcoming cuts to benefits.

“The Government Art Collection helps to promote the creativity of British art and culture by showcasing its works in the UK and across the globe,” a government spokesperson said in a statement to the UK media.

The spokesperson said all purchases were approved by an independent expert panel, while “the majority of funding for acquisitions comes from philanthropic sources – not taxpayers’ money”.

Also on rt.com 50 UK aristocrats, some owning castles, applied for taxpayer-funded scheme aimed at saving businesses amid lockdown – media

The statement came after the Daily Mirror cited official documents stating that nearly £90,000 ($125,000) was spent via the Government Art Collection for two pieces of artwork for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s residence at 10 Downing Street. The core functioning of the collection is funded by the government, with specific projects jointly supported by private donations and partnership, according to its website.

A total of £70,200 ($97,500) was spent on an untitled abstract painting by Belfast-born artist Cathy Wilkes. Another £18,755 ($26,100) was paid for a set of four black-and-white vegetation photographs by Derry-born photographer Willie Doherty called ‘Ashen, Restless’.

The photographs were acquired in March from Dublin’s Kerlin Gallery. The painting was purchased the same month from the Glasgow-based Modern Institute.

Also on rt.com ‘Tone-deaf!’: Brits blast BoJo after reports he’s forming ‘charity’ to pay for fiancée’s No.10 makeover including ‘gold’ wallpaper

The purchase of expensive artwork was revealed as the government is set to slash the temporary pandemic-related increase in the Universal Credit benefit by £20 a week from October 6 – a cut that will affect low-income workers.

“Johnson finds more lavish treats for himself, just as he cuts Universal Credit, freezes frontline police pay, and cuts help to disadvantaged schoolchildren”, Labour Party MP Neil Coyle tweeted, adding that the PM was “totally out of touch”.

Another Labour lawmaker, Emma Lewell-Buck, told the Mirror that Johnson focuses on himself when the country is still reeling from the pandemic and lockdowns. “The selfishness of this Prime Minister is galling,” she said.

Former culture secretary, Tory peer Ed Vaizey said called the Government Art Collection “a unique cultural asset of our country,” which has supported British artists for decades. He added that Johnson had no role in the acquisition.

Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!

Podcasts