In January 2004 Sir Nicholas Goodison delivered a report to the Treasury entitled Securing the Best for our Museums. Private Giving and Government Support. Although only museums are referred to in the title, the report is actually far more wide-ranging and covers galleries, libraries and records offices within its remit. It investigates the schemes in place to encourage donations of works of ‘art and culture’ to such repositories and comes up with many recommendations for improving and clarifying the current procedures.
There are a number of points that specifically concern corporations. The review recommends that tax relief should be available to corporations which gift pre-eminent objects or archives to the nation. Additionally, the douceur arrangement (essentially a tax sweetener) which at present is available to private individuals who offer items for sale to a museum and galleries should, it suggests, be extended to corporations. The review also notes ‘The risks to important business archives are particularly acute. Many companies conserve their archives professionally…other companies are more careless about these important historical records’ and recommends that the Inland Revenue should issue a statement of practice making it clear that companies can include the care and conservation of business archives, and the costs of providing access to them in their costs before the calculation of corporation tax.
Many of the recommendations concern the role of Resource (now the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council) and seek to place it centre stage in administration of schemes such as Acceptance in Lieu and the Export Licensing system. Additionally, if many of the report’s recommendations are implemented, then Resource will become the major negotiator, contact and information point for potential sellers or donors of objects of cultural and heritage value. It will be interesting to see if this role will also encompass advice and guidance to businesses attempting to sell or donate their archives to repositories or museums.
The Treasury has yet to respond to the report. The report can be accessed on the Treasury’s website: http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk