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Bridgeman’s initiative comes after discussions with the British Art Market Federation (BAMF) and the Society of London Art Dealers (SLAD), who both expressed the need for a second collecting agency. It also follows a feasibility study.

Bridgeman believe that launching ACS as a separate and independent body represents a logical step since they already administer the copyright of some 500 artists. In a statement they said: “We believe that our proven patronage of the arts together with our wealth of experience in both copyright and the image licensing business makes us the ideal platform from which to launch this new service.”

Bridgeman’s Jessica Tier told ATG: “We represent collections from museums, auctions houses, private collections and dealers, so we have a strong relationship with both artists and the art market.

“However, our real drive is with artists’ needs in mind,” she added. “We feel a duty of care to the artists we represent and also for their dealers.

“This is why we will be running this service on a not-for-profit basis, and any excess money raised once costs are covered will be reimbursed to artists at the end of the year.”

ACS’ administration fee will be 18 per cent, less than the 25 per cent that DACS retain as administration costs for their licensing services and the figure also mooted as their potential levy for collecting Droit de Suite. However, as their statement below makes clear, they have made no final decision on the rate they will charge.

“Having only one agency doing the collecting doesn’t seem right,” said Jessica Tier. “Two agencies should drive down the collecting charge which will further benefit the artists.”

She said she also hoped that having two collecting agencies would encourage the government to clarify the legal situation and establish clearer regulations for administering Droit de Suite as a whole.

In a written statement, DACS chief executive Joanna Cave said: “We have learned of Harriet Bridgeman’s intention to set up a collecting society in association with SLAD and BAMF.

“Of course the Artists’ Resale Right Regulations provide for more than one organisation to operate but only on the basis that they are properly constituted as collecting societies. From the information we have seen, the Bridgeman proposals seem very vague and we await some hard facts, mindful that the regulatory bodies are very clear about how collecting societies must operate.

“Bridgeman has stated that they intend to charge artists 18 per cent to manage their royalties. Working on a not-for-profit basis, DACS has yet to determine the rate we will charge because this can only be done with precision once the true costs of collecting the royalty are known.

“DACS has been established as a collecting society for over 20 years and represents 52,000 artists and their beneficiaries. Our main concern is that artists’ rights are effectively and transparently managed.

“Since the existence of more than one organisation managing resale royalties will inevitably duplicate effort for the collecting societies – and for the art market professionals – it is hard to see how the Bridgeman initiative benefits artists. We shall wait and see but in the meantime DACS is getting on with the job of providing a good quality service for artists and art market professionals in the management of the resale right.”
By Alex Capon