A visual arts tax credit for galleries, more pensions support and advice for artists, and an extension of the VAT Refund ruling to galleries are among the recommendations submitted to the Treasury.

The joint submission to the Treasury Spending Review was initiated by a-n The Artists Information Company and the Contemporary Visual Arts Network (CVAN), with additional contributions from Scottish Artists Union, Artists Union England, Visual Arts Ireland, Engage and Visual Arts Group Wales.

The submission was also supported by the Plus Tate network, Artquest, Axisweb, Crafts Council and the National Society for Education in Art and Design.

Aimed at highlighting the importance and strength of the visual arts sector to the UK’s social and economic performance, as well as its international standing, the submission outlined the benefits of a healthy sector and the risks if it is not properly supported.

It comes on the back of significant cuts to arts funding bodies, with Treasury funding for arts councils (per person) falling by 35% between 2009/10 and 2013/14, while significant cuts to local government funding have also impacted heavily on the visual arts.

The submission to the Treasury argued that further cuts jeopardise the vibrancy of the sector while also undermining the potential of the visual arts as a platform for sustainable economic growth in the UK.

Specific recommendations

The submission made a number of specific recommendations, including:

•         More pensions support and advice for artists including support for further research and action into viable models of pension provision for visual artists;

•         Increased promotion of, and access to business, pension and other financial advice and support for micro visual arts and crafts businesses;

•         Introduction of a visual arts tax credit for organisations (similar to the successful Film Tax Relief and Theatre Tax Relief), giving a deduction for organisational corporation tax purposes that can also be surrendered for a payable tax credit;

•         Extension of the Section 33a VAT Refund ruling beyond museums to include all galleries;

•         Simplification of the Gift Aid system in order to stimulate philanthropic giving to visual arts charities.

The Treasury’s detailed 2015 Spending Review will be announced on 25 November. It will set out departmental spending for each financial year from 2016/17 to 2019/20.

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