Hertfordshire County Council to start sell off of 1,826 piece art collection The Hertfordshire Mercury reports that the council is set to go ahead with an auction on 21 March to sell off more than 90% of its public art collection despite a campaign to halt the sale, including a petition that has attracted over 2000 signatures.

The artworks were acquired by the council from 1949 onwards as part of the School Loan Collection, one of the first collections of its kind which was intended to give school children direct access to works of art.

The sale follows a public consultation last year, with the council stating that due to the volume of works and lack of resources to manage them, the collection could not be properly maintained.

Council cabinet member for education, libraries and localism, Terry Douris, told Hertfordshire Mercury that disposing of most of the collection is the “sensible thing to do”.

He continued: “With 60% of the art collection languishing in storage and not available to the public, the county council believes that the approach it is taking to the art collection balances its fiduciary duty to its council tax payers to use the full resources available to it to best advantage, whilst aiming to achieve much improved access and display of the retained collection for the public.”

Earlier this week, the artists Bob and Roberta Smith and Jessica Voorsanger sent an open letter to the leader of Hertfordshire County Council, David Williams, calling on him to reconsider the sale.

The campaign has also received support from the National Society for Education in Art and Design. Michele Gregson, NSEAD general secretary, said: “Given the provenance of these artworks, intended to benefit generations of children and young people in Hertfordshire, who do not have access to arts, we urgently ask that the County Council reconsider the private sale of these public artworks.”

New £150,000 grant to ‘embolden’ museums goes to Manchester’s Whitworth and Van Abbemuseum The Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester and Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven are the joint first recipients of a Transformative Grant from Outset Partners, a branch of the Outset Contemporary Art Fund.

The Art Newspaper reports that the grant will fund The Constituent Museum, which takes it inspiration from ‘Arte Útil’, the concept of art as a tool for social change developed by the Cuban artist Tania Bruguera.

The Van Abbemuseum will use the award to work with the LGBTQ community in order to look at initiatives that will bring a queer critical perspective to its collection displays.

The Whitworth’s first initiative sees it inviting a group of local residents to run a year-long residency focused on memories of The Reno, an underground soul and funk club in Moss Side that was demolished in the late 1980s.

Whitworth director Alistair Hudson said: “There aren’t many funds where you can say ‘we don’t know what we’re going to do yet’. It is not for us to decide – it’s for the constituents.”

Sheela Gowda awarded 2019 Maria Lassnig Prize The Bangalore-based artist has been named the second winner of the Maria Lassnig Prize, a biennial award for mid-career artists. The prize is worth approximately £42,000.

Gowda will present a solo exhibition at the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau in Munich, in spring of 2020. She will be honored at an award ceremony at the museum on 7 June.

Known for her sculptures and installations that incorporate materials such as cow dung, coconut fibres, and threads, Gowda studied at Bangalore’s Ken School of Art and Visva-Bharati University in Santiniketan before completing an MA in painting at the Royal College of Art, London in 1986.

Culture ministers from 16 German states agree to repatriate artefacts looted in colonial era The ministers have agreed to create conditions for the repatriation of artefacts in public collections that were taken “in ways that are legally or morally unjustifiable today” from former colonies, reports the Art Newspaper. They described the return of the artefacts as “an ethical and moral duty.”

At a meeting this week, the ministers agreed to work with museums and institutions to develop repatriation procedures with “the necessary urgency and sensitivity”.

Screen grab from Save Hertfordshire’s Public Art Collection petition

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