27 NOVEMBER 2004, Page 34

Saving art for the nation

From David Barrie Sir: I was surprised to read in your leading article (20 November) that the job of keeping art treasures in Britain had been 'for many years . outsourced . . to John Paul Getty'. In fact, the National Art Collections Fund (Art Fund) — a private charity dedicated to saving art for the nation has been doing the job for more than a hundred years. More than 850,000 works of art have been acquired with our help over that period. Our 80,000 members may also be surprised to learn of the 'meanness of the general public', as their contributions, large and small, enabled the Art Fund to give away over £3.5 million last year towards the acquisition of works of art.

Without the Art Fund and the generosity of the general public, most museums would face enormous difficulties in adding to their collections. When the case for giving to the arts is made convincingly and with passion, the public do indeed respond. The Art Fund's current appeal to save the Macclesfield Psalter has raised well over £30,000 in its first week, The tax concession you describe would be extremely welcome, but the audience to which it is designed to appeal is not as reluctant to give to the arts as you imply.

David Barrie

Director, National Art Collections Fund London SW7