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28NADFAS REVIEW / AUTUMN safe handsDanielle Greentalks to theArt Fund's new Director,Stephen Deuchar, aboutsaving art and heritagetreasures and funding for thenation in these times ofeconomic austerityBeing at the helm of a majororganisation in today's economicclimate is no easy feat. But forStephen Deuchar, who took up his postas Director of the Art Fund at the start ofthis year (replacing David Barrie whostepped down last May after a 17-yeartenure), the outlook is certainlyremarkably encouraging.Deuchar, who joined from Tate Britain,where he had been Director for 11 yearsand which he was instrumental in settingup when Tate Modern opened in theremains of Bankside Power Station in2000, arrives at a time when theindependent art charity is, as he puts it,"in very good shape". Membership -currently at 80,000 - is growing, andwith it funds raised and spent on savingimportant artworks for the nation'smuseums and galleries."To be joining an organisation that isactually growing in the current economicclimate is a rare privilege," says Deuchar,who I meet in his office in Millais House,the Art Fund's South Kensington basefrom where the organisation carries outthe business of helping raise cash tosecure important artworks for the nation,and campaigning for proper levels ofgovernment funding for museums andgalleries. "For us to have achievedgrowth in a period of severe economicdifficulties is a sign that we arecommunicating our messages andmaking the benefits that we offer seemattractive, and the cause that we serveseem important."Deuchar's debut is more gratifying stillfor being marked by the successfulculmination of the Art Fund-ledStaffordshire Hoard campaignwhereby an Anglo-Saxonhoard of buried treasure -the largest everunearthed - wassaved forSTEPHEN DEUCHAR REVIEW / AUTUMN201029STEPHEN DEUCHARin more money and to spend thatmoney more effectively will impact everyoperational area, from volunteernetworks, marketing, museumpresence, PR initiatives and campaigns,he explains. To control running costs, aprocess of internal reorganisation iscurrently under way. "Our aim is tomaximise income and expenditure andspend as little as possible in the processof transferring the money from coming into going out."There will be greater scrutiny too. "Weneed to get better at evaluating theimpact of the grants we give. There hasbeen a tradition of handing money to themuseum and that's the end of it,whereas I think charities in general todayare keen to ensure that the money theyspend meets all the objectives, not justfor the organisation but, moreimportantly, for the recipients."However, Deuchar is keen to reassuremembers (many of whom also belong toNADFAS) that changes will not impacton member benefits such as the ArtFund's highly regarded magazine ArtQuarterlyand the varied programme ofevents organised by the charity, insistingthat the Art Fund remains "verycommitted" to both.As for the Art Fund's campaigningremit, under Deuchar - who at TateBritain was, of course, on the receivingside of funding - the focus remains assharp as ever. He concedes that thenew government has made all the rightnoises about the value of Britain's artsand heritage sector, the importance ofmaintaining free admission to nationalmuseums and galleries, and therequirement for tax breaks forphilanthropic donations, but the proof ofthe pudding will be in the eating."We are in close touch with the newAbove:BirdmanbyElisabeth Frinkwas gifted toLeeds ArtGallery via theArt FundRight:Scabbardboss from theStaffordshireHoardmuseums in the West Midlands wherethe stash was found. Britain took the Hoard to its heart,helping to raise the £3.3 million neededto keep it in the West Midlands, andwas a perfect example, insists Deuchar,of how, with the right cause and theright campaign management, economichardship need not necessarily translateinto a reluctance by the public to reachinto its pockets. "The StaffordshireHoard appeal was the mostextraordinary demonstration that if youare involved in something people reallybelieve in you can be successful almostregardless of economic difficulties."It was an auspicious start to his tenureat the charity - with a further boostcoming this summer when his nameappeared on the Queen's BirthdayHonours List awarding him a CBE forservices to art. But the hard work, hesays, starts here. And that means anincreased focus on what he describesas the "end product" - the Art Fund'scharitable programme. A drive to bringImages © Simon Rawles; The Frink Estate/Beaux Arts