London’s other rivers

London’s other rivers

The capital has been shaped by its natural waterways, as a new exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands reveals

TAITMAIL    You couldn’t sing an aria about it

TAITMAIL You couldn’t sing an aria about it

Someone HAS to write an opera about opera. Better, a soap opera. Sex, death, plot lurches, vast personalities and gorgeous costumes, it's all there.

Into the woods for Grange Park Opera

Into the woods for Grange Park Opera

There are two Grange opera festivals this summer, based at two different country houses in Hampshire and Surrey, both created by the conductor Wasfi Kani. Simon Tait visited the newest

MY STORY    Helping artists to value themselves

MY STORY Helping artists to value themselves

Jerwood Arts’ new director, Lilli Geissendorfer, has introduced three new funds to the charity’s operations, and for one is announcing bursary beneficiaries whose careers could be shaped by them

Heritage high streets get £62m boost

Heritage high streets get £62m boost

High street buildings are to be turned into creative spaces thanks to a new £62m government fund, the Department of Digital Culture Media and Sport has announced.

Hogarth, the noisy painter

Hogarth, the noisy painter

A new exhibition at the Foundling Museum takes a single painting of 18th century life as its subject

First affordable CEZ artists’ studios open

First affordable CEZ artists’ studios open

Eighty-five affordable artists’ studios have opened in Deptford, South London, as part of the Mayor of London’s Creative Enterprise Zone scheme.

GOOD PRACTICE GUIDE  Dancing into the big top

GOOD PRACTICE GUIDE Dancing into the big top

Clare Limb, head of dance development & learning for Déda, the Derby-based dance and outdoor performance development agency, on bringing dance and contemporary circus together in learning and participation

Plymouth to reopen Elizabethan House museum

Plymouth to reopen Elizabethan House museum

£2m restoration will finish in 2020

Lottery support for Northern arts organisations

Lottery support for Northern arts organisations

The National Lottery Heritage Fund is backing a new scheme, to be run by Creative United, help cultural organisations in the North with business advice.

Fears over Brexit fuel art exports to EU

Fears over Brexit fuel art exports to EU

The value of art, collectors' pieces and antiques exported from the UK rose to a three year high of £5.4bn in 2018, up from £5.1bn in 2017.

AI PROFILE   Cynthia Corbett and living with art

AI PROFILE Cynthia Corbett and living with art

The Cynthia Corbett Gallery is in a former 1860s convent in a leafy corner of Wimbledon, not the kind of venue you would expect to be a nurturing place for artistic talent.

Peter Hall’s theatre facing closure

Peter Hall’s theatre facing closure

Kingston Council’s withdrawal of funding may see the closure of the Rose Theatre, created by Sir Peter Hall and opened in 2008.

 The Rose 30 years on: how it was saved

The Rose 30 years on: how it was saved

It was on a barmy early summer Sunday afternoon in 1989, exactly 30 years ago, when the Rose Theatre was saved. Simon Tait was there

Export block on judge’s Chatterley copy

Export block on judge’s Chatterley copy

The government has put a temporary block on the copy of D H Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover used by the judge at the novel’s obscenity trial in 1960 – perhaps the most famous Old Bailey trial of the 20th century - complete with his wife’s annotations.

Cabaret’s automata delight returns to London

Cabaret’s automata delight returns to London

The automota show Cabaret Mechanical Theatre, for 15 years a feature of Covent Garden, has a new show in London with the artist Paul Spooner – thanks to the inspiration it gave a teenage visitor

Armitage the new Poet Laureate

Armitage the new Poet Laureate

Simon Armitage has been appointed the new Poet Laureate, following an unexpectedly troubled search for Dame Carol Ann Duffy’s successor.

THE WORD Where are non-western artists in contemporary galleries?

THE WORD Where are non-western artists in contemporary galleries?

Faiza Butt is a Pakistani artist whose work is held in private and public collections including the British Museum and the Kiran Nadar Museum, Delhi

Wales consider arts for core subject

Wales consider arts for core subject

Arts subjects could become a core class for Welsh school children if a proposed new curriculum is put in place.

Bristol's Bricks aim to reclaim police station for the arts

Bristol's Bricks aim to reclaim police station for the arts

Bristol's arts charity Bricks are hoping to create a new arts hub in one of the city's old police station.

Arts Council Northern Ireland pays executive £12k in discrimination case

Arts Council Northern Ireland pays executive £12k in discrimination case

Arts Council Northern Ireland has paid £12,000 to its chief executive Roisin McDonough after settling an age discrimination case.

The David Parr House: Cambridge's Arts & Crafts home opens to the public

The David Parr House: Cambridge's Arts & Crafts home opens to the public

The David Parr House, the Cambridge home of William Morris' Arts & Crafts collaborator, is to open to the public.

Saatchi Gallery covers artworks after complaints from Muslim visitors

Saatchi Gallery covers artworks after complaints from Muslim visitors

The Saatchi Gallery in West London has taken the decision to cover up works by artists SKU that feature an Islamic declaration of faith, following complaints from Muslim visitors that they are blasphemous.

Anthony Caro: Seven Decades @ Annely Juda Fine Art - REVIEW

Anthony Caro: Seven Decades @ Annely Juda Fine Art - REVIEW

In our new review feature Adam Anderson considers the unending story of Britain's game-changing sculptor, Anthony Caro. 

TAITMAIL Don't forget to count a gift horse's teeth

This week the Royal Academy announced its biggest ever single gift of £10m as a result of which the RA Schools will be named the Julia and Hans Rausing campus. At the announcement in the RA’s life drawing room, where we sat on the same benches that Turner and Constable once rested their young haunches, my colleague whispered, “Is that the good Rausing or the bad Rausing?”.

Good question – how safe are philanthropic gifts to the arts? 
 
Only three weeks ago the Royal College of Art announced that it would have a Rausing Research and Innovation Building thanks to a £15m gift, but from a different Rausing. Don’t worry, they're both good, despite the lurid drugs-related stories attaching to one of them a few years ago. In fact, there are three of them all doing good, and all the children of the 95-year-old Tetra Pak heir Hans Rausing, each a billionaire in their own right. The eldest is 60-year-old Lisbet who has a history doctorate from Harvard and co-founded Arcadia, quietly devoted to conserving culture and language and, with board members such as Lord Rothschild, Neil MacGregor and the former HLF CEO Anthea Case, one of the UK’s largest philanthropic trusts.
 
Also one of our biggest philanthropic foundations is the Sigrid Rausing Trust created by the next of Hans’s offspring, 57-year-old Sigrid, who has an anthropology doctorate. She is a publisher (she owns Granta) and author whose philanthropy is very personal; she works hard for Amnesty and the Human Rights Watch, and on Desert Island Discs in 2016 her luxury item was the British Library. Her RCA gift moves forward the college’s research into how science and art can work together for social good. 

Image shows , left to right, Julia and Hans Rausing with the Keeper of the RA Schools, Rebecca Salter, and RA President Christopher Le Brun. Credit Tristan Fewings, Getty Images

Little brother Hans Kristian, now 55, was the problem child, the poor little rich boy who got caught up in the American drug culture, and although he founded drug rehabilitation programmes only solved his own after a family tragedy involving the death of his first wife. In 2014 with his second wife he founded their foundation which has so far given away £185m, much of it to heritage projects such as Canterbury Cathedral, the Royal Opera House and this month Tintagel Castle to rebuild its bridge. Last year the JHRT gave £2.5m to the RCA’s £108m extension, and now another £10m for the schools.
 
Due diligence has found a clean bill of health, but family trusts aren’t always so trustworthy. The same day as the RA announcement the head of another major cultural institute told me that he has had to back-pedal very hard from pursuing a charitable donation from the Sackler Foundation, and next month the National Portrait Gallery may have to announce returning a £1m Sackler donation in the face of a boycott threat from the photographer Nan Goldin. 
 
The name Sackler appears on museum and gallery developments everywhere, including the Sackler Courtyard which opened at the V&A last year and educational operations that couldn’t have happened without their money. The problem is that the cash was made by the pharmaceutical Sackler brothers who created and marketed the opioid painkiller OxyContin in the mid-1990s which turns out to be highly addictive. Overdose deaths have resulted in an avalanche of law-suits.
 
But not all Sacklers have been given the black spot. The RA also has its Sackler Wing of Galleries, but this was funded by the Jillian and Arthur M. Sackler foundation - created by the elder brother, also a doctor, who died before OxyContin was put on the market. So that appears to be safe, but will dozens of other institutions from the British Museum to Dulwich Picture Gallery feel obliged to return gifts they can ill-afford to?
 
Demonstrations like Goldin’s have made the public only too aware of the potential controversy behind some benefactions, not least the widespread grants from BP which is “buying legitimacy”, activists say, by supporting institutions like the British Museum, the Royal Opera House, the RSC, and the NPG whose portrait award it has sponsored for 20 years.  
 
And don’t scrape history away too zealously if you don’t want to reveal some uncomfortable facts. People now are more aware than ever of possibly tainted benefaction, thanks to media interest and activist demonstrations. They haven't always got it quite right, though. I was in a cheese shop recently where there was a lively discussion about whether we should be buying Colston Bassett stilton because Edward Colston was an 18thcentury slave trader. It turns out that Colston Bassett is a small village in Nottinghamshire, nothing to do with the man whose name is having to be removed from Bristol’s Colston Hall, despite his philanthropy, when it reopens after refurbishment next year.

 

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