Business Support Of Arts Drops Dramatically

Preliminary reports suggest that donations by businesses to arts organisations have dropped by 7%, while gifts from individuals are up

New statistics from the charity Arts & Business suggest that business investment in the arts has fallen for the fourth year in a row, down to £134.2m. But this was partially mitigated by an overall 4% growth in total private sector investment to £686m. The figure for individuals in 2010/11 was £382.2m, higher than it has ever been, thanks to a 10% increase in funding from trusts and foundations and a 6% increase in private individual philanthropy. This reverses a decline in the previous two years.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has made much of attempting to boost private gifts to the arts, 2011 ‘a year of corporate philanthropy’. Of these new figures, he said: ‘This confounds the critics who said it was a waste of time trying to boost philanthropic giving when times are tough. It is also a real tribute to the determination of the cultural sector to boost its fundraising and strengthen the financial resilience of arts organisations. We now just need to keep going – particularly exploring the opportunity of legacy giving for which a new tax break comes into force this April.’

But the Labour shadow arts minister, Dan Jarvis, countered such optimism: ‘Today’s news is not reason for Jeremy Hunt and Ed Vaizey [the arts minister] to celebrate and pat themselves on the back. Arts organisations across the country are still very unsure about what their futures will look like and we continue to have a lack of arts organisations in some of the most deprived areas of the country.’

‘The government promised that cuts in public funding for the arts would be replaced by philanthropists’ generous donations across the country. We can see that this simply hasn’t happened. Whilst private giving has increased by £28.5m in 2011, the public funding to Arts Council England was cut by £71m. This is deeply worrying for the long-term sustainability of the arts sector.’

Philip Spedding, campaign director of Arts & Business, the Charity responsible for the figures, said: ‘There are distinct variations across the country, but overall the arts world has continued to respond to the cold economic climate in a positive and successful manner. The downward trend on business support for the arts remains our prime concern. However, we are beginning to see some in the arts discovering other productive ways to work alongside business, and our role remains to develop, sustain and celebrate these new ideas and models.’

‘It remains to be seen whether private investment is set to become the dominant funding force of UK culture. What we are seeing is through the adoption of new fundraising and digital channels, arts bodies and individual artists across the UK are capitalising on the unquestionable opportunities that exist for the arts in communities, in the pursuit of creativity and in the delivery of enterprising sponsorships.’

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