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London captures 81% of individual giving to culture

Geraldine Kendall, 10.10.2012
Arts & Business philanthropy report shows regional disparity
Cultural organisations in London capture 81% of individual donations, 56% of business investment and have seen the largest regional rise (9%) in private giving in the UK, according to a new report published by Arts & Business.

The report, launched by culture secretary Maria Miller at the Conservative Party conference this week, shows that private giving to the arts is on an upward trend, rising 162% in the decade up to 2010/11. Heritage and museums bring in 52% of all private sector support.

But the report shows a significant regional disparity. Private investment has dropped 32% (over £7m) in south west England, while the north east and Northern Ireland each capture less than 1% of giving.

The report shows that the measures taken by Miller’s predecessor Jeremy Hunt to promote philanthropy are yet to make a significant impact. Private investment rose just 4% in 2010/11 and proportionally makes up just 12% of arts funding overall, compared to 52% from public subsidy and 36% from earned income.

As the report’s preliminary findings showed earlier this year, business sponsorship has dropped every year since 2007/8. In addition, individual donations have almost halved, falling from £120m in 2008/9 to £73m in 2010/11. Only 2% of "philanthropically-active individuals" donate to the arts, the report found.

The biggest increases in donations came from legacies, trusts and foundations and friends organisations. Money from legacies increased from £65m to £81m, trusts and foundations from £138m to £170m and friends and membership organisations from £175m to £227m between 2008/9 and 2010/11.

Speaking for the first time on culture since she took up her new position, Miller confirmed at the conference that philanthropy will continue to be a key plank of her department’s policy on funding for the arts and said there were no plans to restore any of the public funding lost in the last spending review.

She said: "The nature of the economic climate means we are going to have to continue to challenge ourselves about how much money is available. We are going to have to look at how we can unlock the potential in philanthropy. The finances of the country dictate that, but I also believe that is the right way to go."

Miller added that cultural organisations need to be better at "asking, not just receiving", and said it was an achievable goal for private giving to culture to double over the next few years.

Museums Association director Mark Taylor said: "Museums are not against philanthropy - quite the reverse. But, as Jeremy Hunt said when he came to office, it is a long haul.

"Museums and potential philanthropists need to learn more about what the other wants, relationships need to be forged and, in the long run, it is smaller scale individual giving that provides the most achievable and sustainable income."