Maria Miller insisted that philanthropy was a key strand of her department's funding policy

Miller reignites philanthropy debate

Gareth Harris; Geraldine Kendall, Issue 112/11, p11, 01.11.2012
Concern that coalition regards private giving as a replacement for public sector funding
Culture secretary Maria Miller’s insistence that philanthropy remains a key plank of her department’s funding policy has prompted debate about the role of private giving and whether it should be seen as a replacement for public sector funding.

Miller told the Conservative Party conference last month that there were no plans to restore the public funding lost in the last spending review.

John Roles, head of Leeds Museums, said: “The growing emphasis of this government on philanthropy is worrying, as it shows a lack of understanding of how this works and what sponsors may support.

“They will support successful organisations, one-offs like exhibitions or a major infrastructure project, but are less inclined, perhaps, to support basics such as an education service. It does not replace core operational funding – it cannot be relied upon.”

Miller’s comments coincided with the publication of a report by Arts & Business, which revealed a significant imbalance between private investment in London and the rest of the country.

According to the report: “Cultural organisations in London receive over 70 times more private sector support [£488m] than those in Northern Ireland [£6.7m], and over 40 times more than those in the north-east [£12m].”

Roles said: “The prestige of organisations attracts support, hence the big national museums find it easier.”

But Jonathan Wallis, assistant head of museums in Derby, said: “London will probably always get the lion’s share but the regions need to fight back. If we are not getting our share it is our fault... it is not good enough just to moan about it.”

Arts & Business’s survey of almost 1,000 arts organisations revealed that private giving to the arts had risen 162% in the decade up to 2010-11.

Funding from corporate sponsorship has, however, fallen from £92.1m in 2008-09 to £81m in 2010-11.

The biggest increases in donations came from legacies, trusts and foundations, and friends’ organisations. Money from the latter rose from £175m to £227m between 2008-09 and 2010-11.