The Contemporary Art Society (CAS) is a London-based charity with national reach. With an illustrious history of supporting successive generations of world-renowned artists, the CAS is on a strong growth trajectory and has ambitious plans for the future.
Since 1910, the Contemporary Art Society has donated over 10,500 works to museums and public galleries – from Bacon, Freud, Hepworth and Moore in their day through to the influential artists of our own times. In the last ten years, the Society has increased its investment in art purchase from £160,000 per year to over £500,000 per year. Through the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021, the CAS responded to the crisis by establishing the Rapid Response Fund, based on two successful crowd-funding campaigns. This significantly increased its investment in art purchase - and therefore artists - and provided much needed encouragement to museums battling with successive lockdowns.
The Contemporary Art was founded to support living artists by buying their work for public collections in the UK. Today, it works with 77 museums across the UK and typically purchases work from between 30-40 artists each year. The CAS is unique in the way it works with museums, many of which have been members for 90 or more years. The membership constitutes a highly-regarded and powerful network of professionals. Museum Membership entitles them to an acquisition every four years through its core acquisitions schemes for fine art and craft, to access to its competitive schemes, eligibility for Gifts and Bequests and to participation in its year-round Continuous Professional Development programme.
The CAS has established strong partnerships with the National Gallery, supporting the artist in residence programme there; with the Henry Moore Foundation, supporting the acquisition of sculpture for Leeds Art Gallery and The Hepworth Wakefield, and with Frieze London where it has made high-profile purchases for regional museums.
An important strand of income generation for the charitable work of the Society comes from CAS Consultancy. A for-profit consultancy team working with a range of high-profile public sector and commercial clients, CAS Consultancy offers a range of services including writing public art strategies, major commissions in the public realm, and corporate art collection management. This consultancy work not only provides increasingly significant income for the Contemporary Art Society but also contributes directly to the Society’s mission by facilitating and encouraging the production of great art for the public realm.
Annual turnover is c. £1.6m. This comprises just under £170,000 received from the Arts Council England and the remainder derived from the annual subscription of the 77 Member Museums, individual and corporate patrons, and fundraising income.