Monday, 20 February 2017

The Cellar




As we are reorganising things at Dave Pearson's studio, in order to create space to accommodate Apna and the South Asian heritage womens groups that will be using the downstairs rooms, we've been looking at the other spaces in the building with fresh eyes.

One of these spaces is the cellar area. This was by-passed during the refurb work on the property in 2009. The building, on Manchester Road, Haslingden, is a terrace, but a rather grand terrace. It would probably have been the house for a professional - maybe a lawyer, or a senior manager in one of the mills. They would have had servants, and the upper floor is probably where the servants slept. The cellar would have been the servants working area, with their own stove, boiler (for cooking and cleaning for the owner, no doubt) etc. Now days the cellar has no natural light (it's below ground level) but originally it would have had lighting from pavement grills. 

Because the house was bought by Dave in the late 70s as his studio, it hasn't been lived in for a long time, so it retains the original fireplaces, tiled floors, etched windows and the cellar, although in a rough condition, still has its Victorian fittings. Above, from the top, are the stone slab table to conserve meats and dairy; centre the old sink and internal drain (plus bricks up window); and at the bottom a view of one of the cellar rooms showing the stove, the boiler and the stone sink.

At present we use it as store for old archive material, and various odds and ends. It's actually quite a sizeable area so it has potential - as a gallery space, for example. It's not too damp either. Access is down some very pokey stone stairs, and there would be fire-escape issues, but I wonder what could be done if we decided to use it more effectively. Does anybody have experience of this sort of conversion?

Friday, 27 January 2017

Expanding - new plans for our building

The process of changing our status from a Trust to a Limited Company (see recent posts) is now underway and in the hands of solicitors and taxation experts. 

As a result our focus has correspondingly altered from concern about the legalities as to how we will use the Dave Pearson building and, to an extent, looking at ways of keeping our costs down. We will, of course, continue to house Dave's work, and the process of cataloguing and ordering his output will remain - at least until the process is complete - at the heart of our work. But its also clear that we now have an opportunity to develop the building in more creative directions. 




At present, for example, we normally have one public open weekend each year - the annual Rossendale Arts Trail - and perhaps host one or two school visits, and a handful of visits from potential buyers of work or galleries. I've been aware for some time that, with a certain amount of reorganisation, we could also use the space for other activities. In particular I  knew that my friends at Apna, which is 2 minutes walk away in Haslingden centre, were having problems with their own small shop premises, so I asked them if they would consider a move to 54 Manchester Road.

Arry Nessa, who manages Apna, quickly saw the advantages for them - a reduction in rent, a generally warmer and friendlier building, plus becoming part of an existing creative environment. She checked it out with her colleagues, and we showed one or two around - and now the Apna organisation have agreed that they will move into one of the downstairs rooms at 54 by the end of next month. 

Work has now started at the Trust so that Apna can soon start holding its classes - yoga, well-being, language and various creative classes and cultural activities mainly for local South Asian women - at The Dave Pearson Centre


New heaters have already been installed (above), soon to be followed by hot-water and improved storage facilities. A postbox, more security, and a telephone line are being added, and new signs will be hung at the front of the building. 

We feel that Dave Pearson would have been delighted to see his old studio sharing its space with a new sister organisation, who will be opening their part of the building to their groups on several days each week. We're also improving the upstairs office so Arry can have desk space. Below Ella is discussing plans with Arry Nessa (seated). All of us are excited that the building will now be used by more people, while continuing to house its amazing collection of Dave's work. 


Thursday, 12 January 2017

Reassessment - Part 3

The Trust members met together on 4th January to discuss the things we had learned from Amanda Freeman of Myerson Solicitors. Margaret Mytton and I had had a second meeting with Amanda on the 16th December to clarify things still further, and now we needed to talk things over with Chris Pearson. 

Since our earlier meeting (see Reassessment - Part 2 below) we had heard from Forbes Dawson, a tax specialist called in by Myerson, and their advice was to close the Trust and set up a Limited Company instead, in order to better manage the affairs of the Dave Pearson Estate. 

In fact, a one-off opportunity exists to do this before the 10th anniversary of the Trust. After that the option to undo Trust status no longer exists in law, and the Estate would continue - every 10 years - to have to undergo Estate Duty reassessment. It would mean that, as a result of all the work that I and others have done since Dave's death, there would be a considerable increase in value of the Estate since his death. This would be taxed, and a similar re-assessment - and the accompanying taxation - would have to be done very 10 years. 

But by withdrawing the Trust structure, there will be no need for such a reassessment; instead tax will simply be paid on all sales as with any other business, and this can be offset against our expenses (which it can't for a Trust). Further, as a limited company we can pay agents, or directors, to help us sell Dave's work. 

So Chris, Margaret and I have agreed to close the Dave Pearson Trust and to establish a new limited company. This will be done over the next 12 months. Chris will be the sole Shareholder, so the terms of Dave's will - that the Estate is left to his son - will continue to be met.



The limited company will need to compensate Directors and Agents in a way that the Trust did not, as Trustees must do any work for free. So increasing sales of Dave's work will become even more important. Not only to keep the studio afloat, the work being catalogued and archived, but now the need to pay some level of fees to anyone helping in this process. 

Fortunately we're continuing to make links in this respect, and Ed Perry of the Colourfield Gallery in Poynton visited over the holiday period and has taken away several works by Dave for sale at the Gallery and online (click here to see the Colourfield Gallery page). Ed was very enthusiastic about the link between his gallery and the Trust, and took away some especially strong pieces of work (see picture, above, for a taster).

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Best wishes from the Dave Pearson Trust


Page from one of the 14 notebooks left by Dave Pearson that include his research on Calendar Customs. 

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Reassessment - Part 2


This morning the three members of the Dave Pearson Trust - Margaret Mytton, Chris Pearson, and I, went to meet Amanda Freeman of Myerson Solicitors in Altrincham. Amanda has particular experience in wills and inheritance tax planning, and knowledge of estates and trusts. We chose Myerson since they are a law practice recommended by Artlaw.  

Amanda quickly made us feel relaxed, despite us being beginners in understanding the law in these areas. All three of us would admit to being naive about this complex area of law, even though we have been acting as trustees for over 7 years. She listened to our concerns, and asked us a number of questions about the Trust. We had with us a copy of the Will, the Trust documents, and an account of the Trust's financial dealings since 2008 (as well as our passports to show that we were who we claimed to be). 

She said that, well, we had come at exactly the right time - as there are still over two years left before (because of the 10 year rule) we need to be reassessed for Estate Duty. She said that this will give us adequate time to decide what course of action to take and then to go to the Inland Revenue to discuss the Trust's tax affairs. 


One thing I had never fully understood and which Amanda clarified for me, was the fact that the kind of Trust we are (apparently a 'Relevant Property Trust') can make over what is called a 'Holdover Election'. This can only be done within the first 10 years of a Trust existence. In effect, it would enable us, if we chose, to return the Estate back to Chris Pearson, who was the sole beneficiary of the Will as Dave's son. 

The advantage of this to the Trust would be that the Estate Duty issue would then cease to exist - although Capital Gains Tax would still need to be paid on any sales of the work. It would mean that Margaret and I would no longer be Trustees, and the Trust would be wound up. The downside is that it would place all the responsibility for the paintings and the tax back with Chris - and it was to avoid precisely this that was the main reason for establishing the Trust in the first place. 

Still, many things have changed over the last decade. For a start, we now know far more about exactly what artwork the Estate owns, and we also have more knowledge about the value of individual pieces of work than we had in 2009. This information would help Chris should we decide to wind up the Trust - and there's also no reason why we shouldn't continue to help Chris should he want us to, or equally he could employ others to give him that support.

But all of this is still a way away. All three Trustees will no doubt think over what we learned from Amanda today, and she is suggesting that we have another meeting soon with one of her colleagues who is an expert on the art market. After that, it will be time to make a  decision on what course of action we want to take and then make our submission to the Inland Revenue.





Thursday, 13 October 2016

Reassessment - Part 1

Anyone reading this blog since I started writing it shortly after Dave Pearson's death in the summer of 2008 will remember that one of the biggest issues we (the Dave Pearson Trust) faced in the early days was the problem of valuing his work for Estate Duty. The problems we had to overcome were complex, if not exactly unusual with artist's estates, and for those reasons I started recording our progress in this blog.

Dave sold work throughout his life, but it was never a preoccupation. He earned enough from lecturing to cover his needs, and ultimately preferred to spend his time painting than bothering too much about galleries, or his reputation.

Like many artists he died leaving behind a lot of work. In his case an awful lot. I estimated between 14,000 and 20,000 pieces at the time, and at this point, after several years of careful cataloguing, we've archived 12,000 pieces. The likely final number will be about 16,000 pieces.

Because Dave had not sold anything in the 5 years prior to his death there was nothing to base value on. I approached two reputable companies who specialised in valuing art works and estates. When I described the situation they lost interest. I couldn't get anyone to visit the studio and take a look. In the end the Inland Revenue accepted a very low figure - £5000 I seem to remember – which did little more than reflect the value of the canvas, wood paper and paint left behind in the studio.



But the story doesn't end there. There's a '10-year rule', and every 10 years the value of an estate, if its held in trust, is reassessed, and tax rules are re-applied. At this point working it out gets extremely complicated as various rules, involving percentages of percentages are applied. If there's a a significant increase in value, then Capital Gains Tax might also apply.

After the first few years, and after the Inland Revenue wrote to say that they accepted our valuation, we've let things lie. But now, with less than two years to go before the 10 year anniversary, we've had to start thinking again about our valuation issue. It's frankly too complex a subject for any of the Trustees to handle, and even our decent local solicitor has recommended that we seek specialist advice.

There's an irony in the underlying situation in that we formed the Trust to save Dave's work, and help to foster and develop his reputation. It's meant archiving and safely storing the work, and this has meant that we've sold work in order to cover our costs. No one makes money from this – we employ a part-time archivist, and we pay rent on the studio. Any income beyond this will, in the end, go to Dave Pearson's son.

By doing the work we're doing, however, we've inevitably considerably increased the value of the work. So its clear that today a valuation would have to be considerably higher than the initial £5000. If we say that the 15,000 pieces left were worth an average of £50 each, then the estate would be valued at £750,000 – a huge increase, with god-knows-what tax implication. But of course nearly all of this work lies in storage – the value is only potential value, IF it were all sold. In any case that £50 is probably rather low. So this is where the negotiations really begin, and why – after looking through the very useful Artlaw pages online (http://www.artquest.org.uk/artlaw/) - we're about to go and talk to a solicitor who specialises in this kind of thing.


To be continued...soon.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Art Trail and more...


We had a very successful Open Weekend as part of Rossendale Art Trail; 40 visitors on Saturday, 75 on Sunday, and we made a number of sales. Most of all though there were lots of new faces to be seen, and clearly much interest and enthusiasm - with plenty of people staying in the studio for close to an hour, or over.

This week I take a dozen painting to York ('According to McGee') where Dave shares the first of the 'Modern Masters' joint shows with Barry de More. We've also agreed that the Turnpike in Leigh will host a large scale show of Dave's work in the autumn of 2018. There's discussions too with Dean Clough in Halifax - so a palpable sense of movement and interest in the collection.

Discussing things with visitors over the weekend, and with Ella Cole having now catalogued 12,000 pieces of work, we feel its time to look to the future, both of the studio and the collection. Over the next few weeks I'll be involved in meetings with artists, the Trustees and others, to draw up a plan that will renew our commitment to Dave Pearson's legacy and reputation.