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Fears rise for the future of public art

The decision of Tower Hamlets to sell a statue by Henry Moore has experts warning that the future of public art could be in serious danger as local authorities look at various ways in which they can raise some much needed funds.

There is particular controversy regarding this statue however as Henry Moore himself donated it on the understanding that it would be on display permanently in the open air so people in this socially deprived London borough could enjoy it. This is the key factor in what is making this sale so unpopular and the people in area are up in arms.

The decision by the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, to sell the ‘Draped Seated Woman’ has drawn huge criticism from film director Danny Boyle and much of the art world. Boyle, a resident of Tower Hamlets and the director of the London 2012 opening ceremony, said that this sale was diminishing the value of art by monetising it, despite it being priceless to the residents it was given to in the first place.

The statue is expected to fetch up to £20m and the Mayor overruled his councillors who didn’t want to see the famous statue sold. The Labour MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, Rushanara Ali, also said that the Mayor was ignoring the desires of the people themselves as a petition to save the statue had more than 1500 signatures.

Rahman, however, is vehemently defending his decision, saying that the money raised from the sale with give some relief to the £100m budget cut which Tower Hamlets, home of some of the worst British deprivation, was facing over the next 3 years. This statue is only the latest in a long line of public pieces of art which councils are selling off, but the history of this one makes it the most significant so far.



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