‘Prime Minister’s egoism is infuriating:’ Government criticized spending on new arts for Downing Street
Boris Johnson has come under fire after it emerged nearly £ 100,000 had been spent on two works of art to be displayed on the walls of 10 Downing Street.
Government art collection fund accounts show £ 70,200 was spent on a painting by Belfast artist Cathy Wilkes, the Daily Mirror reported.
An additional £ 18,775 was spent on a set of works by photographer and installation artist Willie Doherty.
The works were funded by the government art collection fund, which is largely made up of donor contributions, but supplemented by taxpayer money.
The spending drew criticism from opponents of the Conservatives, who called the jobs unnecessary luxury as the government faces tough decisions to cut spending and raise taxes.
Labor MP Neil Coyle tweeted: ‘As his government cuts universal credit and freezes the salaries of nurses and frontline police officers, Johnson has found more money for treatment. Still.
“He couldn’t be more disconnected.”
South Shields Labor MP Emma Lewell-Buck told the Mirror: “The selfishness of this Prime Minister is maddening.
“When the shelves are empty at my local food banks, businesses have fallen into the wall, the public sector and key workers have suffered freezes and pay cuts, his priority is himself again. “
A government spokeswoman defended the spending, saying: “The government art collection helps promote creativity in British art and culture by showing its works in the UK and around the world.
“It acquires new works after consulting and gaining approval from a group of independent experts, and the majority of acquisition funding comes from philanthropic sources – not taxpayer dollars.
“The government art collection is committed to public engagement and lends widely to public exhibitions and collaborates with national public events and through its digital platforms. “
It is understood that both works were purchased to mark the centenary of the founding of Northern Ireland.
Former Culture Secretary Ed Vaizey, now a peer curator, also backed the purchases, saying: “The government art collection has supported British artists for 120 years – a unique cultural asset to our country.
He added: “(Boris Johnson) would have had no involvement in the acquisition, which would have come from the existing budget.”
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