Monday 23 April 2012

ACCP Rediva

It would seem from a conference that they organized in March, that the American Committee for Cultural Policy (ACCP) has been awakened from its post-Iraq slumber. The ACCP website ( has been down for quite a while now and there was a general impression that the group had disbanded. It seems this is not the case, it has a new website, called "". The group's aims are summarised in the banner heading: "Preserving world art heritage for future generations" and the front page of the website gives them in more detail:
The American Committee for Cultural Policy is a non-profit organization recently formed by concerned legal and arts specialists. It solicits support and input from art collectors, museum professionals, art historians, archaeologists, and art dealers. The ACCP encourages debate on important cultural policy issues.

Our Goals
Preserving artistic heritage [in the US?]
Providing Universal access to art through cultural exchange and education [in the US?]
Advancing public understanding of legal and ethical issues affecting the art world [in the US?]
Finding workable solutions to questions regarding acquisition, donation, exhibition, and publication of ancient art [in the US?]
Advocating a principled legal international art market [in the US?]

It seems apparent that this organization equates "preservation" only with collecting objects. Rather like one might "preserve" animals by locking them in zoo cages so people can gawp at them ("Universal access to wildlife through edutainment...").

Meanwhile the handout advertising the (then) upcoming meeting on collecting Asian art is informative. It tells us the aims of the meeting are:
Exploring the common ground between art collecting and cultural diplomacy (sic), the panel will try to explain how current policies, in both the United States and internationally, will affect private and public collections in the future. More specifically, the panel will examine:

- How new museum (sic) policies leave hundreds of thousands of orphaned (sic) works of art with an uncertain future (sic)
- The consequences of US import restrictions on Chinese art
- The difficulties museums face in organizing exhibitions
- How policies are affected when art source countries (sis) such as India and China, develop an indigenous collectors' market.
That last one is a real killer isn't it, imagine the foreigners starting to collect examples of their own cultural patrimony, preventing them getting onto the US market? The very idea! Those so-called "orphan" objects (ie items with no collecting history to speak of) have been caused not by "museum" (it's always "somebody else's fault" in the collecting world) but by collectors and dealers deliberately [or carelessly] obscuring where items have come from - or to put it another way, allowing items of unknown origins to enter the market, when the responsible dealer and collector would say 'no' to their acquisition. Nothing else.

It is worth noting the name, this private group claims to be the American Committee for Cultural Policy. Committee of what? Why "American" committee? Of American cultural property (arrowheads, native baskets, shaker chairs and quilts and suchlike)?  Or is this a committee for American cultural policy? Also, "American" culture or just US cultural property (American continent or country)? The 1970 UNESCO Convention obliges member states to set up such national advisory bodies, the US has not done so - does the American Committee for Cultural Policy imagine this is what they are doing? (Art 14 indicates that this body should be state-funded). The United States however already has a Cultural Property Advisory Committee (members appointed by the President CCPIA section 2605), so why does this group mirror its name, and does it not recommend the President's advisory committee as "American"? Finally do this group really imagine it can deal with the whole of US "cultural policy" (so music and film, book subsidies, performers' rights and copyright etc.) when it really seems to be concerned mainly with the visual arts and antiquities?

Interestingly there is no "About Us" page (yet) telling us who is in this new ACCP. We learn from the programme of its "first meeting" that William Perlstein is in it.

Perlstein describes the mission of the new ACCP as “to get US policy back to the reasonable middle ground”. Time will tell what this might be, but I think we can guess. "Preserving world art heritage for future generations [in the US]?" It seems to me that the ACCP is going to be just another version of the ACCG, with the CPRI overlapping both.

No comments:

Creative Commons License
Ten utwór jest dostępny na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa-Bez utworów zależnych 3.0 Unported.