British Museum partners regionals on new exhibition plan

British Museum partners regionals on new exhibition plan

The British Museum is collaborating with regional museums and galleries on an exhibition of prints and drawings from the BM’s collection.

V&A to get ‘fly on wall’ treatment

V&A to get ‘fly on wall’ treatment

The Victoria & Albert Museum is allowing BBC cameras into its vaults and workshops for a six-part documentary, Secrets of the Museum.

Achates ambassadors scheme to build new funding structure

Achates ambassadors scheme to build new funding structure

Achates Philanthropy, set up to help arts organisations raise funds from private sources, has launched a bursary scheme to train fundraisers.

ACE plans £2.25m Fringe performance showcase

ACE plans £2.25m Fringe performance showcase

A new £2.25m Edinburgh Fringe performing arts showcase has been announced today by Arts Council England, focussing on theatre, dance and circus.

Shakespeare’s small Shoreditch world

Shakespeare’s small Shoreditch world

Shakespeare’s London during his early creative life in the capital since arriving in about 1592 was confined to a few square meters of Shoreditch.

Export block on £9.5m key Millais

Export block on £9.5m key Millais

The export of a painting by John Everett Millais has been halted to allow a UK buyer to raise £9.5m to keep it in the UK on public display.

New Affordable Art Fair UK boss

New Affordable Art Fair UK boss

Elizabeth Dellert, exhibition services manager at Frieze Masters since 2015, is the new UK director of the Affordable Art Fair.

TAITMAIL  Fringe benefits

TAITMAIL Fringe benefits

In his Edinburgh Fringe mime show, The Letter, Paolo Nani was trying to open a bottle and pour a glass of wine from it without using his arms. 

Media magnate chairs British Council

Media magnate chairs British Council

The advertising and media entrepreneur Stevie Spring has been appointed chair of the British Council by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, it was announced today. She succeeds Christopher Rodrigues.

Secrets of Leonardo’s Virgin

Secrets of Leonardo’s Virgin

The latest imaging technology has revealed details of previous attempts before Leonardo finalised his composition of one of the National Gallery’s most popular paintings, The Virgin of the Rocks.

Auntie's year of a good read…

Auntie's year of a good read…

The BBC is committing airtime across all its media to literature for a year, with partnerships with libraries and reading groups across the country.

Strike planned at Science Museum

Strike planned at Science Museum

Ballot on industrial action at Museum of London too

Call for London slavery museum

Call for London slavery museum

A call for a London slavery museum by the Fabian Society has been supported by London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan.

NMS’s Rintoul to stand down

NMS’s Rintoul to stand down

The director of National Museums Scotland, Gordon Rintoul, is to stand down after 18 transforming years in the job.

TAITMAIL Clutching the straws in the wind

TAITMAIL Clutching the straws in the wind

By Patrick Kelly

As newly elected local councils get down to work, arts organisations find themselves having to negotiate a new set of relationships with freshly mandated politicians, many of whom will display utter ignorance of the value of arts to their communities.

Major boost for Cromwell Museum

Major boost for Cromwell Museum

Huntingdon’s Cromwell Museum is to get a £160,000 revamp.

Fears over future of Merthyr’s Redhouse

Fears over future of Merthyr’s Redhouse

Artists accuse managers of ‘running venue down’

£10m bid to save late Turner

£10m bid to save late Turner

An export stop has been put on one of J M W Turner’s most famous watercolours, The Dark Rigi.

Barbican artistic director stands down

Barbican artistic director stands down

Louise Jeffreys, artistic director of the Barbican Centre since 2010, has announced that she is to leave at the end of this year.

TAITMAIL Together apart – our black theatre women

TAITMAIL Together apart – our black theatre women

There are those in the malevolent social atmosphere we have built around us who would be suspicious of something called Black Womxn in Theatre. 

THE ART OF PHOTOJOURNALISM Image of the month

THE ART OF PHOTOJOURNALISM Image of the month

More by luck than judgement: Diana, Princess of Wales, Cornwall, May 12th, 1993, by Richard Lappas

Alan Sparrow introduces this month’s image

Sharing the garden of art

Sharing the garden of art

AI Profile: Laura Sillars, director, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art

Gentle art to dispel violent myths

Gentle art to dispel violent myths

A tent town is growing today on a farm in Hampshire, big enough to accommodate the 35,000 people and more who will come from 100 different countries for this weekend. Many are coming to learn the arts of handwriting.

The black queens of our theatre

The black queens of our theatre

This image is a moment of history, a salute to the achievements of black women in British theatre. “It’s our celebration, putting a ribbon around it” says Stella Kanu.

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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