Page last updated at 09:46 GMT, Thursday, 3 April 2008 10:46 UK

France plans loans for art buyers

Drouot's auctioneer in Paris, November 2007
The proposals will ease restrictions on auctioneers

France is taking measures to boost its flagging art market.

The government says interest-free loans will be offered to "modest" buyers to purchase works and it is expanding incentives for companies to buy.

A survey out this week showed that, for the first time, France had dropped from 3rd to 4th place behind China in sales of art works.

"There is a real need to act," explained French Culture Minister Christine Albanel.

Under the scheme, members of the public will be granted interest-free loans worth up to 10,000 euros ($15,000, 8,000).

Mrs Albanel said the idea was "to bring private individuals closer to this act of buying a work of art" adding that the loan "was the price, for example, of a flat-screen television".

She said the idea was also to help young artists.

Tax breaks

Banks providing the loans will be compensated through tax breaks for corporate art patronage.

Small businesses, too, are to be given greater tax incentives to buy art works and auction houses will be modernised.

For every work that is imported, two works are exported
Christine Albanel,
French Culture Minister

An independent study by art market experts Artprice showed France with 6.4% of art sales worldwide in 2007.

China has 7.3%, Britain 29.7% and the US 41.7%, according to the survey.

Figures suggest the French art market is growing at only 13%, compared with 36% globally.

Mrs Albanel added that art was being "relentlessly drained" from the country.

"For every work that is imported, two works are exported," she said.

The head of the Symev union of French auction houses, Herve Chayette, welcomed the proposals.

"This is coming really late, but at least it is here now," he said.

The proposals will now be considered by parliament.

Similar schemes aimed at less wealthy buyers have already been introduced in Britain and the Netherlands.

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