Arts bodies fight to top up lottery

Click to follow
The Independent Online
YOU want an opera house? The National Lottery offers you millions. Some millions, that is, if you can raise the other millions yourself. But can you?

The unexpected answer from some of Britain's richest patrons of the arts is: don't count on us.

Famous foundations, trusts, charities and corporate sponsors are looking askance at the requests now flooding in to them for "matching funding" - the money officially required by the lottery to top up its vast cash awards for big arts, heritage and millennium projects.

It is a problem unforeseen in the euphoria which greeted the news 18 months ago that the cascade of lottery cash would fund theatres, galleries and stadiums across the land. That cash has indeed been forthcoming: since the four main lottery distributors started allocating their grants, more than pounds 1.2bn has been promised to projects.

Promoters, however, need to raise between 25 and 50 per cent of the capital cost from non-lottery sources. The projects so far in the pipeline - from the redevelopment of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, down - are worth more than pounds 2bn, leaving at least an pounds 800m funding gap. Can it be closed?

"It is doubtful whether these sums of money are attainable," said Janet Morgan, assistant director of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts, the charity vehicle of the supermarket clan. "Everybody is saying you must help us, otherwise we lose our lottery cash. But we are not influenced by the lottery."

It is a view endorsed by the Clore Foundation, whose most famous patronage of the arts is its funding of the Clore Gallery, home of the Tate Gallery's collections of Turner paintings. The foundation, whose patron is the heiress Vivien Duffield, has indicated that none of the organisations which have enjoyed its beneficence in the past should assume they are going to be given funds for lottery projects.

Nigel Siederer, director of the Association of Charitable Foundations, said: "I doubt whether this method of funding the arts is viable. It's fundamentally flawed. We know that charitable foundations are being sounded out to help and, because they don't want to be put under pressure or have their priorities distorted, they are giving a dusty no."

The squeeze is already being felt. Last week one of Britain's premier dance theatres, Sadler's Wells in London, warned that it may be forced to forego its pounds 30m lottery grant because it is struggling to raise equivalent funds from the private sector.

Among organisations still seeking funds to match their lottery awards are the Tate Gallery, the Royal Opera House, the National Cycle Route, the Cambridge Arts Theatre, and the Royal Court Theatre. All these organisations want to build new venues or replace existing ones.

Kieran Cooper, marketing director of the Cambridge Arts Theatre, said it was becoming increasingly difficult to raise money because of fierce competition for funds. "We began raising money long before the lottery and I'm very glad we did because it is now much harder. We still have pounds 500,000 to go."

The Tate Gallery's plans for a new Bankside gallery of contemporary art have been warmly received by the arts world and secured pounds 50m from the Millennium Commission. It plans to raise the same sum from individuals, charitable foundations and corporate sponsors. Last week project director Dawn Austwick said she was "quietly confident" that she can raise the money from sympathetic private donors. However, she confirmed that "the money is not tied up, the deals are not complete".

Another organisation claiming quiet confidence is the Royal Opera House, which secured pounds 55m of Arts Council lottery money and is trying to match it with another pounds 55m. So far, it has secured a promise of pounds 6m from two donors. Last week Keith Cooper, its director of corporate affairs, confirmed that the remaining donations are not yet confirmed. "It is very difficult at the moment because there is a limit to people's generosity," he said.

Arts organisations that are unable to raise money from rich patrons' trusts are considering other options. The Royal Opera House will derive a third of its redevelopment funds from shops, while others have acquired European Regional Development Funding to match lottery cash.

But Colin Tweedy, director of the Association of Business Sponsorship, warned: "It's inconceivable that corporate funding can provide enough money for these plans. Companies prefer to sponsor an event or a production than a new building because it gives them a high profile without long- term commitment. The solution is that the Government needs to rethink the lottery from the bottom up. The cash is pouring in but we need a different way to redistribute it."