The British Museum received a £25m donation from conservative peer Lord Sainsbury last year. Image: BM

Private giving must reach the regions, says Taylor

Geraldine Kendall, 04.11.2011
Government drive towards philanthropy criticised
Museums Association director Mark Taylor has described the government’s new Legacy10 campaign to boost charitable bequests as “a start”, but said more needs to be done to incentivise private giving across the whole of the UK.

The independent campaign aims to encourage to encourage more people to leave legacies to charity in their wills. At present only 7% of people in the UK leave money to charity when they die.

The campaign will receive a boost next year when a new incentive comes into force intended to encourage people who would be liable to pay inheritance tax when they die - approximately 3% of deaths each year - to leave at least 10% of their estate to charity in exchange for a 10% discount on their inheritance tax bill.

Entrepreneurs including Virgin director Richard Branson and banker Jacob Rothschild have already endorsed Legacy10 (see Museums Journal story here), which was launched at Tate Britain this week.
The tax break is one of a number of schemes announced by the government in the last budget to boost philanthropy. Other measures include a simplification of the Gift Aid system and tax incentives to encourage people to donate works of art during their lifetime.

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has said he aims to establish a culture of giving similar to the US model, where private philanthropy has much more of a role to play in supporting the arts.

The government’s measures to boost philanthropy have largely been welcomed by museums and galleries. Taylor said: “The government must do more than just exhort, it must incentivise, and this is a start.”

But concerns have been raised that private funding cannot fill the gap left by swingeing government cuts and donations will not be spread fairly across the country.

Taylor added: “The fear must be that the level of public funding for museums may not return to recent levels for some time. For philanthropy to succeed at all levels across the whole of the UK it will take time and a culture change in society.”

Shadow culture minister Dan Jarvis has described the government’s move towards philanthropy as “a major gamble [that] lacks coherent strategy”.

Jarvis last month launched a fact-finding report, Arts in the Regions, to examine how investment in the arts nationwide is being affected by last year’s comprehensive spending review. The results are due to be published in March.

Jarvis said: “I want to find out if philanthropists with the money to spare are more likely to spend the money on arts organisations in cities like London, Birmingham and Manchester then they are in Luton, Barnsley and Middlesbrough? If that is the case, how are we going to ensure that the arts remain vibrant in these places?”

Jarvis added: “A cultural legacy built on the cheap has no hope of lasting.”

A spokesman for Jarvis said yesterday: “We are really worried about [the move towards the US model of philanthropy]. Jeremy Hunt has said he doesn’t expect it to emerge until he’s a grandpa and yet he’s cutting investment now.”


The article has been amended to clarify that the Legacy10 campaign is not just aimed at those with inheritance tax liabilities.


Sort by: Most recent - Most liked
07.11.2011, 11:38
Keith, it was not my intention to mislead and I’ve amended the article to clarify this. However, the Legacy10 campaign is covered in further detail elsewhere on this site and I don’t believe the omission of those facts negates my main point, which is that there are concerns that philanthropic giving is more likely to favour wealthy regions – after all, while Legacy10 aims to encourage more people from all walks of life to give, only those with significant wealth are being incentivised to do so.
MA Member, MJ Subscriber, MP Subscriber
05.11.2011, 04:16
The second paragraph of this piece is unhelpfully misleading. The Legacy10 campaign is NOT just aimed at people with inheritance tax liabilities. The aim is that everyone in society should leave at least 10 per cent of their estate to charity. The inheritance tax change is a complementary measure. Jeremy Hunt has made clear his hope that museums, galleries and other cultural institutions across the entire country will broaden their supporter base and cultivate higher levels of giving from donors while they are alive, as well as strengthening legacy giving.
Keith Nichol, DCMS