Don’t sell off our public art

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I refer to the comments made by Coun David Hall, deputy leader of the Tory group, about selling off parts of Kirklees Council’s art collection.

Many art items owned by the council were donated, bought by public subscription, the property of previous councils, such as Batley, dewsbury, Huddersfield etc, or are jointly owned with other bodies (so sales revenue wouldn’t necessarily go to the council).
The items belong to the public. They should not be sold off any more than other public buildings, dams, hospitals, swimming baths should be sold off.

The art was bought for the public of Kirklees and, if it is sold, the cuts would still continue and all that would happen would be that we would have less public art.

The cuts are ideological, not financial. We have no right to sell what is public. These things are our heritage.

What is needed is a proper building for the public to view the art items. Too many art treasures are already held in private collections, away from public view. Selling more art items to private collectors won’t bring them into public view. What is the point of selling art items for them then to be held in a private house in Switzerland in a private collection?

It is a crime that public art should be sold off to pay for cuts.

HMRC (tax collectors) estimate that £28bn a year is lost through tax evasion. Do we then sell off Dewsbury Town Hall, Batley Town Hall and Huddersfield Town Hall to pay for services? You can only sell something once – you can’t sell it again. Then it’s gone forever.

The 3,000 articles of art currently held in private in Kirklees are not privately owned, they belong to the public. The public should be allowed to view them.

We all like some art, but not others.

Art is not a popularity contest. We need to be able to view things and make up our own mind. Art shouldn‘t be a preserve for the rich and private collectors.

We need to return to the concept of the public display of public items and not that everything has a price and the public only get to see those things the rich don’t want to own.

And at the same time, let’s get tax evaders to pay their taxes.


Branch secretary

Kirklees Unision