As we near the end of this turbulent year I would like to express once again how much we value the support, collaboration and friendship of everyone who has been close to the Contemporary Art Society in this time. If it is true that our response to extreme situations reveals our character, then I hope we will be able to look back on 2020 as a moment when, as an organisation, as a community, we saw clearly what our role could be, and translated that into immediate action.
The urgent imperative to champion living artists was the impetus for the founding of the CAS 110 years ago, and this crisis has crystallised our core purpose as never before. As opportunities ebbed away almost overnight back in March, the means of support for many artists disappeared with them. We made it our mission to make as many purchases of work as we were able – through our Rapid Response Fund, an initiative that was in addition to everything we had planned in the current financial year. The success of that campaign is in large part responsible for the fact that by the end of this third quarter of the financial year we have purchased 115 works, art and craft for 23 museums across the UK. It has also been a notable year for gifts and bequests, with a further 100 works donated to 5 museums.
In total, then 215 works have been added to the permanent collections of 28 museums since 1st April. The total value of those works is just shy of £800,000.
2020 has also been a year of great shifts of perspective, as the pandemic has laid bare the social inequalities around us. Through our work with our Member Museums, we are encouraging them to think about the civic role of the museum within its community – to think about who those communities are and question the way the museum reflects them and their stories. Philanthropic support for the Contemporary Art Society is about adding wonderful contemporary works into permanent collections, but it is also about shifting the dialogue between the museum and its audiences, and in that way, making real change.
We look forward to continuing this work into 2021 and beyond, but for now we send you our very best wishes for safe and peaceful holidays.