Tate's director is picture of austerity

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The Independent Culture

The Tate galleries are the nation's most successful, but that hasn't stopped the organisation's director, Sir Nicholas Serota, from flying economy class.

A Freedom of Information Act request has revealed that Sir Nicholas has made 27 flights in the past 12 months, 23 of which were either economy class or complimentary.

However the gallery chief, who earns £164,999 a year, made a business class trip to the Sao Paulo Biennale last September at a cost of £3,248, more than all of his economy flights combined in the past year.

A Tate spokesperson explained that Tate directors flew business class when it was necessary to perform Tate business immediately after a long-haul trip. Sir Nicholas's destinations included the US, where he met the Tate's American patrons, and Germany, to visit the art fair Art Basel and the firms of architects Herzog & de Meuron, who led the conversion of Bankside Power Station into Tate Modern in 2000. Last year 6 million visited Tate Modern.

Sir Nicholas travelled much more frequently than his senior colleagues.