Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Pledge

The New York Sun's Kate Taylor has a short piece on the ADAA's 50-artist pledge in support of the pending Artist-Museum Partnership Act: "In the hope of spurring Congress to pass a bill allowing artists to take fair market-value tax deductions on works they donate to public institutions, the Art Dealers Association of America is promising to secure donations by 50 artists to museums in 50 states upon the bill's passage."

Taylor has a good succinct summary of the current state of play:

"Since 1969, artists, composers, and writers have only been able to deduct the value of the materials in a work or, in the case of writers and composers, a manuscript or set of papers, that they donate to a museum, university, or library. Collectors and heirs, by contrast, can deduct the fair market value of their donations. The bill's advocates argue that this acts as a disincentive to artists considering donating works and puts museums at a disadvantage in the skyrocketing Contemporary art market."

As I mentioned here, I find the idea a little strange. In some ways, it undercuts the logic of the proposed legislation: if the point of the legislation is that it will increase donations by artists to museums, what do you need the pledge for? Wouldn't the same result happen naturally upon passage of the bill? It's a little like proposing a law making gains from sales of a home tax-free, and then obtaining a pledge from 50 home-owners that, if the law passes, they'll sell their houses. If the law does what you claim it will do, the pledge is really redundant.

In any case, a spokesman for Senator Leahy, who introduced the legislation, said "it was not likely that the bill would be passed in the current term, which comes to a close at the end of 2008."