Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A play for philanthropy in uncertain times

The Cultural Philanthropy Taskforce set up by Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Chris Finlayson, has responded to his brief to explore whether there are new opportunities to encourage private investment in the arts in New Zealand over the next five to ten years.

The Taskforce's recommendations to the Minister are to:
  • develop a fundraising capability initiative to mentor and advise cultural organisations on a one-to-one basis
  • promote knowledge and awareness of recently introduced tax incentives
  • introduce Gift Aid to boost private giving
  • explore the workability of a cultural gifting scheme
  • recognise the value and generosity of philanthropists
  • reward with matched government funding cultural organisations that succeed in increasing their levels of income derived from private giving
This link takes you to Growing the Pie: increasing the level of cultural philanthropy in Aotearoa New Zealand. It's a broad-brush report highlighting the need for further research and development, focusing on the development of philanthropy rather than on specific proposals aimed at encouraging forms of arts patronage that might, for instance, benefit practicing artists.

Meanwhile in the UK where austerity measures are impacting on arts funding, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced an 80 million pound matching fund to boost cultural philanthropy, saying the rich in Britain gave six times less to the arts than their US equivalents - cultural giving per capita is 37 pounds per month in the US compared to 6 pounds in the UK.

Back in New Zealand it's harder to predict whether new money from the private sector will be sought to "grow the pie" or shore up arts funding as the government looks for ways to achieve savings to reduce debt. The Minister has said his intention is not to replace government funding but to grow the cultural philanthropy pie. However, a recent Creative New Zealand announcement regarding arts organisations that have been confirmed into the new Arts Leadership Investment programme has fueled speculation on the future of arts funding. Only two visual arts organisations - the Physics Room in Christchurch and Objectspace in Auckland - made the cut. 

Surprisingly, Auckland's Artspace has been asked to submit further programme and budget information to help assess their fit with the new Arts Leadership Investment programme. What does this mean? That Artspace has to jump through a few more hoops to be confirmed under a new programme that ensures long term funding? Or is it a sign that no art institution, not even one with a track record like Artspace, can take public funding for granted in a post-recession economy?
Image: Billy Apple, PAID - THE ARTIST HAS TO LIVE LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE, Auckland Regional Council (2003), invoice mounted on lithograph on paper