Start a Group
A new Collective group can be started by a small number of households (between 5 and 10 is ideal) of friends, family or simply people with a common interest in art. The group, based on households, commits to paying a regular sum into a buying fund to purchase new works. The works displayed in each household are rotated after an agreed period. To help new groups get started, a toolkit will be available including a model constitution, legal advice and accounting template. New artworks are being commissioned and purchased to loan to new groups whilst they gather sufficient funds to buy their own collection.
A group of households wishing to start a new Collective buying group will need to meet and agree on basic organisational needs. Once the group is up and running, most administration can be done by email, and occasional tasks and responsibilities rotated.
(See Questions and Answers below)
A treasurer will need to be appointed and a joint or group bank account set up (most banks have this facility). The starting level of contributions and a start date should be agreed and, ideally, paid into the account by monthly standing order. The accounts template can be used to record all contributions and expenditure on new purchases, framing or other costs as well as recording all purchases. It is important to keep track of all the householdsí contributions, and purchases of work, as this ensures that a record of joint ownership and catalogue of the collection is maintained.
A system of purchasing work may vary from group to group: one way is to elect a buying panel of three or four members who take on responsibility to research artworks they may wish to buy. This may involve meeting and discussing with artists, or seeking advice from curators, other artists or gallerists. The Collective is building a list of advisors who are prepared to offer advice on purchases for a modest fee. Once the buying panel has made a purchase, it then stands down and new panel is chosen. The group may wish to set a limit on the amount that the panel can spend, and a limited time period in which to spend it.
Display and Exchange
Households then agree to share out the works to display in their homes: how this is done is up to each individual household, but the artist may have an opinion on how to present the work. After an agreed period, the group comes together at a memberís home, or other venue, to rotate the works, each household having new works to show in their home. This is an opportunity to discuss new purchases, or the collection as a whole, as well as being a social occasion for all. Opinions and personal taste will come into play, but over time these can change as members live with the works, talk about them and learn more about the artists who created them.
Many artworks are delicate or fragile, so advice on where and how to hang or display them should be sought from the artist or gallery, especially as works may gain in value over time. Proper transportation packaging should be provided before moving the works for an exchange meeting. Works should be insured, either through adequate household insurance, or a special art insurance scheme.
Administration can be kept to a minimum, largely facilitated through the group's own page on the website - this may include notes and notices of meetings and exchanges, upcoming events, and a catalogue of the collection with images of artworks etc. A model constitution and legal advice on ownership and status is available.
Questions and Answers
Will our collecting group need a Constitution?
Each group must have a constitution since this deals with such matters as meetings, the running of the group, handling disputes, what happens when members leave, or the group is dissolved. We will supply you with the recommended form of constitution when you join, with a brief Summary of its contents which may be helpful.
When a new group forms you will be provided with a model constitution. We have no objection if you wish to make minor changes to the recommended form of constitution, but we would ask you to clear any changes with us in advance. We require this in order to ensure that all groups have aims and objectives which are consistent with those of The Collective (national body).
What will I need to sign?
When a new group is formed each member will be asked to sign an Undertaking to agree by the constitution; it also contains rules about publicity, looking after the artwork and confidentiality.
What if a member wishes to leave the group?
If a member decides to leave, a group will agree at the time what the best financial arrangements are that suit the leaver and the remaining members. If this happens early on, the group may decide to simply pay the member the sum of their contributions up to that date. However, this could be financially onerous if a longer period has elapsed. Another option is to find a new member to replace them and buy out their share. However it is important that there is a fallback position in case the arrangements cannot be agreed at the time. The constitution provides that if the members cannot reach agreement, the artworks in which the leaving member has a financial interest will be sold at the end of an agreed period of time (3 years) and the leaving member will receive his or her share. This of course may also involve getting the collection valued. We are proposing that new groups fix a review date after five years at which point the Group decides whether to carry on or sell or disperse the art works.
Are my financial interests legally protected?
In setting up a collecting group, each member will enter into a formal legal agreement in the form of a written Members’ Undertaking (which we will provide) that each member will abide by the Constitution, which will set out a clear set of rules that regulate what happens if things were to go wrong and members fall out. The constitution sets out clear rules to protect members’ financial interests.
What if a collecting group buys an artwork that one member does not like?
We recommend that (depending on the size of the group) all decisions about which works to purchase should be taken by a purchasing panel drawn from the members, which would rotate. This means that sometimes work will be bought which others don’t like. It is inevitable that members of the group will like some artwork more than others, or not like some work at all. However, we feel that this is all in the spirit of buying art as a group rather than just individually. Of course, members are not obliged to display work they don’t like.
What happens if somebody buys a work that I find offensive?
If someone really objects to a particular work or finds it offensive, then they are free not to display it in their home. So far, after six years, this has never happened in the first London Group even though some work can be very challenging. Living with challenging work has in fact been a vital part of our experience of tapping into and learning about contemporary art and artists.
What if I want to keep a particular work for myself?
After a group starts to build up its collection it is likely that at some point the group might wish to sell one or more works. In such a situation, and after agreeing which works they wish to sell, the group could decide to offer members first refusal to buy the works or an individual piece before going to the open market. Groups are also free to decide to sell works on a permanent basis to individual members by mutual agreement of all the members. In the experience of the first London Group, members who like the work of a particular artist tend to buy other work by the same artist as part of their personal collection, in addition to the work they share with the group.
What happens if somebody doesn’t pay his or her contributions to the buying pool?
Each collecting group will agree an initial amount and then ongoing monthly contribution which each member would make as the buying pool which would be used to buy art. People’s circumstances can obviously change, so there might well be occasions when someone is no longer in a position to maintain their contributions, or wishes (by agreement with the other members) to take a temporary break from making contributions. . Every time a work is purchased from the pool, each member who has contributed to the pool obtains a financial share in the work which is recorded. If someone has not contributed to the pool, then they will not own a share in any work that is purchased during that time. Any shortfall in a member’s contribution would be reflected in an eventual sale of the work or the whole collection, for instance when the group is wound up.
How can we find out about upcoming artists or where to buy artwork?
The Collective recommends a number of curators, artists and galleries in different regions who will be able to advise on artists to look at or galleries to visit, or what events to attend such as art fairs. These advisors are paid a fixed fee (negotiated by The Collective) for their time and expertise, which will be paid by the group seeking advice. As The Collective expands, more information on advice on purchasing artworks will be available on The Collective website.
Can we share works with other buying groups?
When there is a national network of collecting groups, it is expected that groups will be able to exchange artworks with one another, rather as museums and galleries do. An Exchange Agreement must be signed between groups, setting out the period and responsibilities of each (recommended forms of agreement will be made available by the Collective).
What about insurance?
It is important that all artworks held in members’ homes are properly insured for their proper value. Members shouldbe able to insure artworks under their existing household insurance policies, but some policies do exclude artworks. Members must provide evidence of cover before artworks are delivered to their homes. Many household policies have an ‘excess’ (or deductible) which the insured has to pay if there is a claim; if there is a claim under a policy, members will be responsible for paying the excess to the group.
[There are specialist art insurers in the market and further information on these will be made available to collecting groups in due course
Are there any tax implications?
Members of Collecting Groups could be liable to pay Capital Gains Tax if an artwork they jointly own is sold. Currently if an individual has capital gains exceeding, in total, £8,800 in a year they are liable to capital gains tax at rates of up to 40% on the gains in excess of that sum.
In order to make the completion of tax returns as easy as possible, we recommend that whenever a work is bought or sold, each member should be supplied with a copy of the invoice with a statement of the member’s proportionate share in the artwork. This will enable members to calculate their share of the cost of the work when it is sold.
When a work is sold each member of a Collecting Group should be advised of their share of the proceeds. It is up to each individual to calculate their own capital gain on the sale and to declare it to HM Revenue & Customs if appropriate. The group as a whole is not liable for the capital gains tax due by any one of its members.
Further advice about tax will be provided to new groups on request.