In a recent report in the Independent on Sunday (28 February) some disquieting obiter dicta were recorded of a leading luminary in the National Heritage Department. It transpired that while the Government was not overtly (my italics) encouraging university sales, it saw no difference between their collections and private ones, and proceeded:
The only way the Government would ever get involved with a university sale is if the art export committee were to delay the granting of a licence.
This could be taken by the unversed to imply that the Government might at any rate take steps to retain in this country the relevant works of art, once sold. However, that remains very far indeed from being the case, because special funds for such purchases would not be made available by the Treasury.
Surely the raison d'etre of the grandly named Department of National Heritage is to be seen to be aware of, and to be attempting seriously to address, the pressing problems of our cultural inheritance - and not being so concerned to avoid them.
10 MarchReuse content