Arts match – funding scheme
03/08/11In December of last year the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, announced that private donations to the arts organisations would be matched by public money in what would be known as “the year of corporate philanthropy”. The idea was to unlock at least £160m for cultural organisations over the next four years.
Cultural leaders and established philanthropists have long been pressing for significant reforms to the tax regime to encourage giving to arts organisations, and to simplify ways in which donors can be recognised and rewarded. The Conservative arts manifesto, published in February last year, promised reforms to tax including simplifying Gift Aid and extending the acceptance-in-lieu scheme, which allows individuals to offer works of art instead of paying inheritance tax.
Sadly this didn’t happen despite George Osborne’s apparent love of the arts. Evidently it is all about attitudes to asking and attitudes to giving and trying to change the whole culture of giving. What a laugh that philosophy is!
The £80m will come partly from Arts Council England, which will contribute around £50m, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which will contribute £30m. The Heritage Lottery Fund had been expected to put up money, but no contribution was announced.
So some seven months later what do we have? A policy that was thought to be lacking in substance is in fact lacking in substance. Match funding but no clear direction or definition. No major commitment to lifetime giving – it is fine when you are dead but what about today.
The Tory spin machine has gone off the rails with this one. Little or no new money and a clear absence of Treasury support. The proposals will do nothing to protect arts organisations from the disproportionate cuts they face over the next few years because not enough has been done to encourage private donations.
Chris Sabian is a portrait artist with www.kutefineart.com/ and co-owner of www.paragonprints.co.uk/ and blogger chris-sabian.blogspot.com/