Staff at the National Portrait Gallery may seem especially cheery today in response to the news that the Aston Villa boss, Randy Lerner, has made a gift of £5 million towards the development of the collection of faces as well as vital display, education and outreach work.
This is definitely a good thing. At a time when public funding for the arts is increasingly competitive and not something to be relied on, private philanthropy is where it's at. Everyone wants to find a minted benefactor. £5 million is not to be sniffed at, especially if its high profile nature encourages other philanthropists to consider giving.
Is £5 million enough, though? Of course, Mr Lerner can do what he wants with his billions and he's getting some galleries named after him so clearly, the NPG thinks it is. But whilst it will fund a raft of great work in the gallery over the next 3 years we wonder how many portraits it will actually acquire, when such ridiculous prices for paintings hit the news regularly.
But we're being mean. Gifts like these are invaluable in helping arts organisations leverage further support and in raising their profile. Christopher Ondaatje got an entire wing named after him for £2.75m back in 2000 (when the wing actually cost a cool £16m).
If only they'd call them the Randy Galleries, we'd die happy.
Image courtesy of pmorgan's Flickrstream.