Private cash for the arts hits record high but donations from big business stall

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The Independent Online

Cultural philanthropists are giving more money than ever but big business support for the arts is at a standstill, a report shows.

Private Investment in the Arts, published today, shows that individual giving by the likes of John Madejski, the Reading football club owner, and Christopher Ondaatje, the writer, to Britain's museums, theatres and festivals rose again last year, and hit £262.4m.

But business investment in culture remains static at £153.4m despite a strong economy and the Government's recognition of the creative economy to the country's wealth. The total amount of private support for the arts across the whole of Britain has grown to £530m, after £113.7m from trusts and foundations is included, figures from the Arts and Business organisation show.

Central government support for museums, performing arts and heritage in England came to £1.2bn, with separate settlements in the rest of the UK.

Colin Tweedy, chief executive of Arts and Business, said: "Private investment in the arts has clearly reached an all-time high. But A&B notes that corporate figures have levelled. The challenge for A&B is to ensure corporate giving does not lag behind other forms. Corporate giving is a key part of the private investment mix."

There had been talk of a cultural renaissance, and the arts seemed in good health thanks to sustained investment from public as well as private resources, Mr Tweedy said. The 2012 Olympics and Liverpool's Capital of Culture year in 2008 were further opportunities to showcase British creativity. But there were fears that public investment in the arts could "cool", with a tough comprehensive spending review ahead. "If public money dips, some arts bodies may chase private income harder and meet with success, but overall the lifeblood and vibrancy of the arts will suffer. Business will look elsewhere."

The importance of the private money is not disputed. Arts and Business found 83 per cent of cultural organisations polled said they could not have attracted the audiences they did without private backing. Yet many organisations are still failing to appeal to business or to the new generation of philanthropists.

The survey showed that three quarters of all private support goes to just 3 per cent of organisations. The top 50 organisations for private investment last year include many of the national museums and galleries but also organisations as varied as the Theatre Royal Plymouth and the Kelvingrove Gallery in Scotland.

London gets most of the money, with 33 of the 50 organisations receiving more than £1m a year being based in the capital. Outside London, Scotland is the biggest recipient of private investment with 5.4 per cent of the UK share last year. The picture in the regions varies, with the South-west, North-east and East Midlands enjoying an increase in 2005-06, but with falls in Yorkshire and the East. The West Midlands experienced a 39.2 per cent drop.

Heritage is the biggest beneficiary in terms of art forms, thanks to the strong appeal of the National Trust, followed by the visual arts, galleries and museums and theatre. Some disciplines have suffered more in the past year, with a 75 per cent cut in money for literature and poetry. Private support for areas such as libraries and archives and dance has grown.

Arts and Business was founded 30 years ago to bring the two cultures together. The amount of annual business investment in the arts then was £600,000.

The art of philanthropy


One of the top 200 wealthiest people in the UK, Mr Madejski is a benefactor to the Royal Academy of Arts. In 2004, the John Madejski Fine Rooms at Burlington House were named after him for his £3m contribution. The John Madejski Centre for Reputation at Henley Management College, agarden at the V &A museum and a gallery at the Museum of Reading also bear his name.


The founder of Loewen, a Canadian stock brokerage, helped fund an extension to the National Portrait Gallery. He has also donated thousands of pounds to the Gulbenkian Foundation's £100,000 arts prize.


The daughter of the businessman Sir Charles Clore donated £430,000 to help the Tate Gallery purchase Constable's Waterloo Bridge and has given more than £11m to arts education.


The property tycoon is a supporter of the Tate galleries and the Royal Ballet School, and has a room named after him at the British Library, to which he has donated at least £1m.