Page last updated at 17:44 GMT, Friday, 15 January 2010

'No action' over Lloyd Webber art row

Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lord Lloyd-Webber set up the foundation in 1992

Andrew Lloyd Webber's art charity has been criticised after the theatre impresario used one of its paintings to promote a West End show.

The £6m JW Waterhouse artwork was on show at London's Palace Theatre during a run of Lloyd Webber's Woman In White.

The Charity Commission criticised the move, saying it "created a perception" the composer was personally benefitting from his charity.

The foundation bought St Cecilia using a donation from Lloyd Webber in 2000.

Donations

It was among four masterpieces bought by the foundation since it was set up by Lord Lloyd-Webber in 1992. He stepped down as a trustee in September last year.

The composer donated more than £28m towards the cost of the works - by Waterhouse, Picasso, Canaletto and Stanley Spencer.

Under charity law, the foundation has to ensure the paintings are made available for public display, and not used to benefit Lord Lloyd-Webber.

Trustees had "on several occasions" told the commission it was unable to find suitable public venues to display its paintings, The Charity Commission said in its 22-page report.

The foundation's decision to hang St Cecilia in the Palace Theatre foyer initially concerned the commission.

'Public benefit'

However, it accepted reassurances that security and environmental conditions were suitable for the picture to be displayed.

Moreover, the commission considered that it was highly unlikely that the display of the St Cecilia at the theatre resulted in an increase in ticket sales for the Woman in White musical.

The Andrew Lloyd Webber Art Foundation said the exhibition of the painting was part of a larger project, in conjunction with the National Portrait Gallery and the Tate Gallery, to display 19th Century artworks with a connection to the theme of the musical.

But the commission said it was not clear from charity's records that, after the display of the St Cecilia at the Palace Theatre, the trustees considered the display of any of its paintings at alternative venues.

The commission also said the display created a perception that the Lord Lloyd-Webber was benefitting personally from the charity's activities.

The report said: "Such perceptions need to be appropriately managed by the trustees so as not to erode public trust and confidence in this charity and charities more generally".

However, the commission added that overall it was "satisfied that the charity was operating for the public benefit".

The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation said it welcomed the Charity Commission's conclusion that no further action was required.



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