Leahy Introduces Legislation To Encourage Museum Donations

With tax reform discussions emerging in Congress, Senator Patrick Leahy on Thursday – National Museum Day -- introduced legislation to encourage donations of museum-quality contemporary art.

Leahy’s Artist-Museum Partnership Act of 2017 would grant tax deductions to artists equal to the fair market value of their work that they donate to museums.  Under current law, artists are only able to deduct the cost of materials used, while collectors can deduct the work’s fair market value. This bill would eliminate that discrepancy.

The Artist-Museum Partnership Act of 2017 was also introduced in the House of Representatives in March by Representative John Lewis (D-Ga.).  Leahy has introduced this bill in each Congress since 2000. The bill is supported by the Vermont Arts Council, the Shelburne Museum and several national museum and artistic organizations.

Leahy said:  “Anyone who has contemplated a painting in a museum or examined an original manuscript or composition, gaining a greater understanding of both the artist and the subject, knows the tremendous value of these works.  This reform would preserve cherished art works for generations by encouraging donations directly from artists.  Tax law currently discriminates against Vermont’s cherished local artists and undermines the ability of public and cultural institutions in our small cities and towns to collect and conserve our nation’s cultural heritage.”

Christine Anagnos, executive director of the Association of Art Museum Directors, said:  "Museums rely on donations to build their collections on behalf of the public, and current law greatly impedes their ability to attract gifts from living artists.  We are very grateful to Senator Leahy for working to change it, and especially for introducing his bill on Art Museum Day." 

Thomas Denenberg of Shelburne Museum said:  “Shelburne Museum heartily supports restoration of the tax deduction for artists who donate their work to public institutions.  This is one of the few ways that original works of art can enter public collections and become part of our shared national culture.  Simply put, this legislation is good for artists, museums, and our country.”

Teri Bordenave, interim executive director of the Vermont Arts Council, said:  “The Vermont Arts Council envisions a state in which everyone has access to the arts and creativity in their life, education, and community.  The Arts Council enthusiastically supports the Artist-Museum Partnership Act. Senator Patrick Leahy speaks for many Vermonters as he seeks to rectify current inequities that impact Vermont artists.  The Arts Council is proud to join our national partners urging favorable consideration of this important act.”

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