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The week in art news – UK government announces ‘levelling-up’ plans

6 February 2022

On Tuesday, the UK government published widely awaited proposals for its ‘levelling up’ programme to increase economic activity across the country and decrease inequalities between regions and with London. The state of culture in the regions will be one measure of success, said Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities: ‘By 2030, pride in place, such as people’s satisfaction with their town centre and engagement in local culture and community, will have risen in every area of the UK, with the gap between top performing and other areas closing.’ It has also been announced that the increase in the budget of Arts Council England determined in 2021 will be distributed entirely outside London. The Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has also said that more than 100 places outside of London will receive extra arts and culture funding from 2023, though this does not mean that more money will be available overall. More detailed plans will be announced in the spring.

On Monday, a rule dating from July 2020 regarding the commissioning of public art for federal buildings in the United States was scrapped, reports ArtNews. Announced by the Trump administration, the order required works , which should be of ‘prominent American historical figures [and] events’ to ‘illustrate ideals upon which our nation was founded’, stipulating that figurative art should be a ‘lifelike or realistic representation of that person, not an abstract or modernist representation’. Robin Carnahan of the General Services Administration, which is responsible for the art in federal buildings, said, ‘Public art is for the people and we want to make sure our public spaces reflect the rich diversity and creativity that strengthens and inspires them.’

Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Art in New York is being sued by Galerie Jacques de la Béraudière in Brussels for refusing to reveal the previous owner of a Rothko painting it sold in 2006. The Art Newspaper reports that, according to the Belgian gallery, the incomplete provenance, which lists just one previous anonymous owner, makes it impossible for it to sell the painting. Galerie Jacques de la Béraudière argues in its lawsuit, filed in New York, that it is well known that the ‘art market [is] a potential haven for money laundering’ and therefore practices ‘tolerated just a few years ago are no longer viable’.

Two ancient warrior helmets, the fragments of what are believed to have been weapons, and the remains of a temple have been discovered at the site of Velia, in southern Italy, near Paestum. Archaeologists made the discovery on what would have been the acropolis of the Greek colony and say that the finds date back to the Battle of Alalia, which took place in the 6th century BC, between the Greek colonists and an Etruscan-Carthaginian alliance in a naval battle off the coast of Corsica. A statement from the Italian minister of culture, Dario Franceschini, declared, ‘It is important to continue investing with conviction in archaeological research which never ceases to return important pieces of the history of the Mediterranean.’