Philip Spedding (L), David Anderson (R)

Head to head

Philip Spedding, David Anderson, 01.05.2012
Does philanthropy work outside London?
David Anderson is the director of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales and Philip Spedding is the director of Arts & Business, London.

Dear David:

Our survey shows that cultural organisations outside London raise barely 19% of all individual giving to culture. Can they raise more? I would say yes, for two reasons. First they are already successfully raising money from business.

The non-London sector raises 43% of total business support – an astonishing success story. Second, there are people outside of London with money to give: 54% of all UK millionaires live outside the capital. It won’t be easy to raise the money in the short term. But with careful stewardship, change can happen.

Best Philip

Dear Philip:

Let’s note also that, shockingly, cultural organisations outside London get only 40% of total investment by trusts and foundations. Andrew Scott, former director of the National Railway Museum, said recently of northern museums that: “Individual philanthropy or corporate sponsorship grants of more than £50,000
in the past 10 years are as rare as hen’s teeth.”

This is in itself inequitable. But it’s worse than that. We know that, within London, the vast majority of private funding goes to a handful of the largest cultural institutions. To those that have, philanthropy shall be given. So, can we agree that there is a problem?

Best David

Dear David:

Agreed, we have a problem. And it doesn’t stop with fundraising. Public funding is criticised as being London centric and, I expect, far more is spent by the public in engaging with the arts in London than anywhere else. The question is whether this is an immutable state.

There are some examples which give hope. Having bought the Angel of the North, Gateshead had the vision and self-belief to create an astonishing contemporary art gallery and a three auditorium arts centre, the latter made possible by the largest arts sponsorship to date in UK. Replicating their success is not easy, but it shows that large-scale fundraising is possible outside of London.

Best Philip

Dear Philip:

Yes, let’s celebrate what has been achieved but we can’t live by exception. Many other places have vision and self-belief, but only a few can get such extraordinary support.

What matters is the consequence for people across the UK. You have far less opportunity to participate in cultural activities if you live outside the metropolis, particularly in one of the many impoverished rural or post-industrial communities. We operate in an outdated and ineffective cultural model: that to fund London is to serve the nation(s). This inequality is damaging to our society. How can we change this?

Best David

Dear David:


Private sector funding cannot be redirected. It goes to where the business or individual spending it wants it to go. Reports suggest that the development of wealth will spread across the country; apparently the North East is going to experience a 46% increase in millionaires.

How do we ensure cultural organisations feel confident to have the right conversations, which must focus on what they can do for the donors? Local pride is a key determinant of cultural support outside of London. If we are going to develop private sector support of culture across the UK, we all need to inspire and engage that sense of pride.

Best Philip


Dear Philip:

We agree on a lot of things! Private sector funders are entitled to expect compelling projects, and to give to any organisation they choose. And yes, community funding is also essential. When St Fagans Museum was founded in 1948, its development was supported by donations from thousands of individuals across Wales.

But it is not a level playing field, and cultural organisations outside London cannot change this on their own. If one thing comes from your research, I hope it is strong advocacy on their behalf from all agencies concerned with cultural funding.

Best David


Comments

Sort by: Most recent - Most liked
22.05.2012, 14:40
Jonathan

I agree that private giving, like so much else, operates in a market that goes beyond the UK, and we have to be at the top of our game if we are to succeed.

We also need support from governments and government agencies in encouraging private donors to look beyond the usual suspects who are the recipients of their generosity.

David
20.05.2012, 00:26
David, I expect the real challenge facing the museum sector in the global village with a globe trotting wealthy elite, will be convincing the millionairiat to donate to museums and art galleries in this country, rather than elsewhere. The people at the top of their game like to be associated with the very best and they may wish to emphasise this and their internationalism through their giving. Cardiff won't just be competing with London, but museums much further away. (I am sure you know this already!)

The national are going to need to have some very skilled diplomats at the top, in the fund raising department and amongst the trustees!! Meanwhile, let's hope pride in Wales and its heritage is still a bankable asset.