Monday, 30 March 2015
The BBC are reporting that "Mr Vaizey made the decision following a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA), which is administered by Arts Council England."
The BBC also quote the RCEWA who are reported to have said that the statue was of "outstanding aesthetic importance" and was significant in the study of "the development of private statuary and funerary religion in Egypt and the history of human self-representation".
The Save Sekhemka Action Group are delighted that the Government has imposed a temporary export ban on the Statue of Sekhemka and we fervently hope that this will be upheld as a permanent ban on 29 July and Sekhemka, an internationally important work of Egyptian Art, will find a home in a public museum where it belongs.
The decision of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA) to recommend the ban, not only vindicates our position as to the importance of Sekhemka as a work of art, but also provides much needed clarity as, until now today's announcement, we were not even able to establish that the buyer was from outside the UK. This was because while the statue is of international importance, was owned by the people of Northampton and was sold by a publicly accountable body, their Council, the process was carried out behind the cloak of privacy and commercial confidentiality.
If the statue of Sekhemka is to be lost to the people of Northampton who enjoyed it for over one hundred years we would like to see Sekhemka retained in the UK. The only problem is WHERE and HOW it could be retained and displayed since the sale itself was unethical and there is evidence it was also of doubtful legality. As a consequence none of the UK's major museums wished to acquire it unless it was GIVEN outright - a public body cannot buy something owned by another public body, it is unethical and a misapplication of public money.
We also understand that the Art Fund was outraged when we told them about the proposed sale and declared they would not then help raise funds for a purchase.
Northampton Borough Council committed an act of great folly selling the statue of Sekhmeka. Even greater was the folly when NBC agreed to buy off Lord Northampton to the tune of £7m thus halving their profit, rather than submitting to a transparent legal clarification of the statue's actual ownership. Now the consequences of this folly are even more apparent: Northampton museums have lost their Accreditation and with that all access to outside funding resulting in a loss of about a third of their income ( in our estimation) - This is not a good position from which to contemplate an extension to the Central Museum.
The Action Group will actively work to uphold the export ban through our many contacts and explore ways of how the statue can be kept in the UK.
Sunday, 2 November 2014
The consequences of the unethical actions of Northampton Borough Council are now being made clear as this week we learn that a £250k application for money to support our shoe collection has been refused.
The damage is already done - we tried to tell NBC, they wouldn't listen.
The Arts Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund have rules and ethics requirements clearly laid out for good reason.
More here: http://www.theartnewspaper.com/articles/English-council-pays-price-for-controversial-sale-of-museum-object/36090
Thursday, 30 October 2014
Wednesday, 1 October 2014
Northampton Museums Service has been barred from Museum Association membership for at least five years.
David Fleming, chairman of the MA's Ethics Committee, said: “We do appreciate the huge financial pressure that many local authority museums are under at the present time, but the MA's Code of Ethics provides for such a sale only as a last resort after other sources of funding have been thoroughly explored. At a time when public finances are pressured it is all the more important that museum authorities behave in an ethical fashion in order to safeguard the long-term public interest. Museums have a duty to hold their collections in trust for society. They should not treat their collections as assets to be monetised for short-term gain."
We wholeheartedly agree and have been saying this for many months. Sadly the worst has happened for Northampton's museums.
You can read the decision in full here:
Friday, 1 August 2014
Thursday, 24 July 2014
This news makes it all the more important that Arts Council England (ACE) and the Museums Association demonstrate the consequences of such unethical and damaging actions as selling publicly owned museum objects for short term profit, and punish Northampton Council by removing their Accredited status.
This will hurt and humiliate our Town in the short term, but at least it will serve as a warning to others who would try to cash in on the museum collections we hold in trust for the future. It might also prevent the Cllr Mackintosh and his Ruling Group from taking any more Government, Lottery and Charity grants under the false pretenses that they are professionally and ethically equipped to care for our culture and heritage.
Both keeping and losing accreditation are two terrible outcomes of this whole episode - the damage was already done when Sekhemka was sold.
A decision is expected from ACE within the next two weeks. The Museums Association will make a decision in September 2014.
Friday, 11 July 2014
- We will continue to oppose the turning of Sekhemka into a commodity to be sold on the rich persons equivalent of E-bay, therefore we will oppose the export of the statue from the UK if that is what transpires, whoever the new owner of Sekhemka is. Particularly if that owner is a private individual who will not put Sekhemka on free public display. If Sekhemka is not to stay on open display in the UK his only legitimate destination is a public museum in Egypt.
- We will also continue to expose the way this unethical, unnecessary and short sighted sale was undertaken, the many legal and financial questions which surround the sale and the conduct in public office of those whose mission it became to rob Northampton of both a cultural jewel and its cultural credibility. We hope the local and national Media will join us in that quest for information and answers.
- We hope the media will also ask Cllr Mackintosh why he insisted on undermining confidence in the Conservative party's core policy in Arts and Culture, promoting philanthropy and donation. As Alan Moore has pointed out, thanks to the sale of Sekhemka, no-one would dream of donating something valuable to a public museum if at some stage it can be taken away and flogged off to the highest bidder in a commercial fire sale
Cllr Mackintosh and Northampton Borough Council announced last night that "...it will retain around £8million (55 per cent of the proceeds), while the remainder will be remitted to Lord Northampton (around £6million)."
- What the Council statement did not say was that the auction costs [around 15%] and taxes will be deducted from that figure, and we might also add the over £40,000 of council Tax payers money spent on legal advice to facilitate the sale. Thus the Council Tax payers of Northampton could see scarcely half of the headline figure spent in the Town, ring fenced or not.
- Equally, while the statement was open about the fact that the Marquis of Northampton will be receiving a windfall of over £5 million, the statement did not enlighten the Council Tax payers of Northampton why, when NBC allegedly "owned" Sekhemka, they will be adding to the fortune of the multimillionaire Marquis and paying for it by becoming pariahs in the museum and heritage world. Like the Museums Association, we believe that the ownership of Sekhemka was never legally resolved and we will be consulting with colleagues to see if an investigation can be mounted into whether Councillor Mackintosh and Northampton Borough Council misled the public, the media and Christie's by saying they did own the statue.
In the statement Cllr Mackintosh has also attempted to spin his way out of the almost universal condemnation his actions have caused to be dumped on Northampton's name and in particular the likelihood that Northampton will lose its Museums Association accreditation, along with the credibility in museum matters which it has already lost.
His statement says
"Work has already begun on drawing up detailed plans for the [museum] extension, which will underpin the growth of Northampton’s Cultural Quarter. The Borough Council is in the process of developing a funding package to take the extension forward, including putting together a bid for support from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Council is also continuing to talk to the Arts Council about museum accreditation."
- We are sure it does. Councillor Mackintosh was explicitly warned by Arts Council England and the Museums Association Ethics Committee that Museums Association accreditation was in severe danger were Sekhemka to be sold and with it access to many significant funding streams to supply the £7-8 million which will still be required to build the still hypothetical museum extension, even with Sekhemka's cultural equivalent of blood money.
Cllr Mackintosh also said: "This money will allow us to realise our exciting plans for the future of the Museum Service. Every penny is ring-fenced for the Museum Service and we will now make our museum redevelopment plans a reality."
- We would point out that without the commitment to display the cream of all the collections and to hold a research archive curated by the specialist curatorial staff and teachers who have been made redundant or not replaced, the Museum Service has no future. Museums exist for their collections held in trust for the future and the expertise to display, describe and bring them to life for visitors and researchers.
- We would also point out there were no "Museum development plans" when Councillor Mackintosh first wanted to sell Sekhemka [such plans were first mentioned when it became clear that the original plan to allegedly give the money to the Delapre Abbey Trust was a non starter as far as the Museums Association Ethics Committee was concerned. There still are no such detailed, costed, plans. Unless you count a cafe and shoe shop with a small gallery space.
Q: What do you say to a Northampton Egyptologist?
A: Two Cappuccino's and a Skinny Latte please
For further comments, additional material including documents or images or to request interviews with members of the Save Our Sekhemka Action Group team please contact