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Italy criticised for mismanagement of EU culture funding

16 May 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Italian regions accused of mismanagement of EU funds | Several Italian regions have failed to spend significant sums of cultural funding allotted to them by the European Union, reports Il Giornale dell’Arte (Italian language article, via The Art Newspaper). The total EU funding to Italy left unspent by the end of last year approached €150 million. While northern regions, including Lombardy and Tuscany, have been found to be using only 70–80 per cent of their cultural budgets, Sicily and Naples have been the worst offenders. According to TAN’s report, ‘chronic mismanagement’ of EU money may be putting Sicily’s heritage sites in peril. Naples, meanwhile, failed to spend around €100 million in EU culture and tourism funding before the end of 2015 (Italian language article).

Sainsbury family members object to BP sponsorship of the British Museum | Sarah Butler-Sloss, Julian Sainsbury, and Mark Sainsbury, children of major arts donor Lord Sainsbury, were among the signatories to a letter sent to British Museum director Hartwig Fischer, which described BP as a ‘barrier to progress’ in the transition from fossil fuels, reports the Sunday Times (£). The letter was organised by protest group Art Not Oil. The Sainsbury family’s Linbury, Monument, Headley, and Gatsby trusts donate around £30 million a year to the arts. The three siblings have signed the letter as chairs of the Ashden, JJ, and Mark Leonard charitable trusts, which donate mainly to environmental causes. It is not known whether their parents share their views on the matter.

Australia Council for the Arts to invest $112 million in arts organisations | Australia’s Council for the Arts has announced a four-year funding programme that will see $112 million go to small and medium-sized arts organisations. Organisations that make a successful application will receive an average of $219,000 per annum, but some in the Australian arts community are not happy. According to the Sydney Morning Herald the new initiative, which has overlooked around 50 organisations, is being described as ‘the worst week ever in the Australian arts’.

Cheyenne Westphal joins Phillips | Cheyenne Westphal, the former worldwide head of contemporary art at Sotheby’s, has been appointed chairman at Phillips. Westphal, who left Sotheby’s last month after 26 years at the auction house, will replace Ed Dolman at Phillips when she takes up the new role next year.

Recommended reading | In the Observer, architecture critic Rowan Moore speaks to Herzog & de Meuron about their design for Tate Modern’s ‘Switch House’ extension. The project has raised eyebrows elsewhere for the admission that it will contain only a relatively small amount of exhibition space. As Tom Rachman asks on NewYorker.com: ‘Nice museum. Where’s the art?’ Meanwhile in 1843, George Pendle examines the fascinating subject of airport carpet design. We like the look of what he describes as the ‘subtly minimalist nylon’ number in Islamabad’s Benazir Bhutto International Airport.