Artists including Antony Gormley and David Hockney are donating some of their works to London's Tate Britain art gallery. Its head, Sir Nicholas Serota, explained why.
Sir Nicolas Serota revealed details of the initiative
Over the last 20 years, the Tate gallery has been hit by a general decline in the amount of government grants given to national galleries to buy new art.
At the same time, art market prices have soared - in some cases by 1,000% - making it increasingly difficult for galleries to add to their collections.
At a news conference on Monday, Sir Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate, said the gallery was offered works "on an almost daily basis" that it would love to acquire but cannot afford.
One such piece was Francis Bacon's Study After Velasquez which the Tate was desperate to prevent being sold abroad earlier this year.
But Sir Nicholas admitted the £9.5m price tag was "beyond our means".
In response to the problem, the Tate is to create a permanent fund, through gifts and legacies, with the resulting income used to promote acquisitions and conservation.
As part of the initiative, 23 influential artists have agreed to donate pieces of art to the gallery, which said it can not afford to buy the works.
Damien Hirst, David Hockney and Lucien Freud are among those who have pledged their support.
Sir Nicholas said: "Part of this initiative has been encouraged by the artists.
"They feel that the Tate is losing ground internationally.
"Unfortunately, we are not like the Museum of Modern Art, in New York, which regularly receives big bequests.
Anish Kapoor has promised Blue Void to the Tate
"This move by the artists is a public demonstration of their concern that this collection should continue to grow.
"London is an important place where their work should be shown."
Sir Nicholas told the news conference he hoped the combined value of the works would total £3m.
He said the artists' pledges were a "gesture of support" and would help plug "gaps" in the collection.
And he admitted that the artists were making a big sacrifice in lost earnings by donating their work.
Some pieces already earmarked - such as Anish Kapoor's Blue Void - are worth in excess of £100,000.
Testing A World View formed part of Gormley's 1994 Turner Prize entry
As well as works directly from the artists, a number of private collectors - including Lord Attenborough - have offered to bequeath important UK works to the scheme.
Tate Members have also committed £1m to the campaign while a number of significant individual donations have also been received.
Artist Antony Gormely has donated Testing A World View to the Collection, which formed part of his Turner prize exhibition in 1994.
He said: "The Tate is a central focus for the continuing creative life of the UK.
"I am very happy to be able to contribute to this important initiative to set up a core international collection bringing the Tate's Collection up to date and making it available outside London."