• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

State of the Arts: What would Sir William think?

In some ways, the biggest arts story of the last week has been the complicated but pretty important changes coming to one of the finest single art collections in these islands, the Burrell Collection in Glasgow.

You may have read in The Herald about the landmark decision by three sets of interested parties: Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Life, who run the city's museums and galleries, and the Trustees of the Collection, to pursue a new strategy with regards to both the 8000-item collection, given to the city by the shipping magnate Sir William Burrell in 1944, and the lauded but now leaky building in which it is housed.

Sir William, who died in 1958 aged 96, stipulated he would not allow any works to be loaned overseas. As a shipping magnate, he was very conscious of how dangerous transporting art by sea could be. However, all international loans are now transported by air and all parties concerned believe "times have changed."

Back in 1997 the council won a long and at times tempestuous battle to change the Burrell bequest rules so its treasures could tour overseas. But two vital factors, after a Parliamentary Commission ruling in the council's favour, were not resolved: the need for a parliamentary private bill to change the bequest at Holyrood, and the full support of the Trustees.

Now, crucially, the Trustees are on board with the plan, to attempt to pass the bill and to tour the collection.

This long process began officially yesterday when the executive committee of the council officially passed the paper on lifting the restriction on overseas lending.

Now, a draft Private Bill will now be put to the full council meeting of 21 February.

What happens next with this bill? Well, first the intention by the council to promote a private bill has to be advertised, in libraries and newspapers. This will probably happen soon after 21 February.

The Bill to change the Deed of Gift would then be introduced, have to be passed by a majority of councillors in a council meeting in April, endure a 60 day objection period from March to May and then be considered by the parliament from the summer. If the bill is passed, it would receive Royal Assent in the autumn.

Promoting the bill will cost the council £5000. The actual legal framework unpinning the bill is from the Local Government Act of 1973.

In promoting a private bill, the council must consult on what the bill is for, and these consultations have to be included in the bill. There are some interesting consultees including the High Museum in Atlanta, Georgia.

The actual tour of the treasures of the Burrell Collection would not begin until 2016. It is from 2016 that Glasgow Life expect to close the Burrell Collection building in Pollok Park for a four year renovation project.

It looks very much like the first port of call for the touring collection will be the British Museum in London, and for at least six months.

While the art is touring, the Burrell Museum will be receiving - it is hoped - a much needed revamp. Opened by the Queen in 1983, it is, I understand, in the process of being Listed by Historic Scotland. But it has major problems with its roof and other "environmental conditions" and indeed, one source told me it is now "not fit for purpose". The tour of the art contained in the building will be hoped to pay for some of the costs, which have yet to be determined.

It has been interesting to note the lack - so far - of objections to what Glasgow Life/Glasgow City Council are doing. I know there were some figures inside both bodies who expected the announcement last week to stir up some controversy, but there has been none so far....

And on other matters....

I know Creative Scotland plan to take their time over finding a new chief executive, but with the progress report they released last week, it would have been nice to have details on what exactly they are doing to find a new leader. I understand the board, led by Sir Sandy Crombie, very much feel it is their job to do this. But Andrew Dixon officially leaves his post this coming week...when will anyone take his place? In the meantime, Creative Scotland is trying to change itself from within.

The new chief will therefore inherit a funding body with fresh paint drying on its own revamp. It will be interesting to see how attractive a proposition that is to any incoming new leader. One interested observer said to me: "It's like football players on a losing team announcing they're changing their style of play...and then going out to get a new manager".

The Creative Place awards in St Andrews were efficiently and quite enjoyably handed out this week. In tone and presentation, they were a world away from the Creative Scotland Awards (which we won't, I wager, see again). What I do understand, however, is that CS want more communities to enter the awards. Would it be a good idea if the 'communities' who can apply included districts/defined areas of Scotland's cities?

Contextual targeting label: 
Block list

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

137207