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Arts Inquiry Recommends More Philanthropy

13 September 2002 at 1:09 pm
Staff Reporter
The Report of the Contemporary Visual Arts and Craft Inquiry has recommended more effective resourcing for the sector through philanthropic incentives.

Staff Reporter | 13 September 2002 at 1:09 pm


Arts Inquiry Recommends More Philanthropy
13 September 2002 at 1:09 pm

The Report of the Contemporary Visual Arts and Craft Inquiry has recommended more effective resourcing for the sector through philanthropic incentives.

Inquiry’s Report has been described as an historic landmark for contemporary arts practice that provides the first comprehensive mapping and examination of the contemporary arts and crafts sector in Australia.

The report makes 20 recommendations, proposing initiatives in the areas of:
 achieving stronger recognition and support for individual artists;
 strengthening the infrastructure for the sector;
 expanding the market for contemporary visual arts and craft; and
 resourcing the sector more effectively, including through philanthropic incentives.

The report also confirms the sector contributes substantially to the Australian economy and Australia’s cultural life.

Report Chairman Rupert Myer says that building on the strength of core government support, it is possible to imagine the sector well supported by an increasing number of private organisations and individual benefactors. In this scenario, there would be many prospective partnerships promoting Australia’s visual culture at significant international events, bilateral exhibitions and events principally for local audiences.

Myer says this Report proposes policies intended to increase the financial support provided for individual artists and their supporting infrastructure from corporate sponsorship and private philanthropy.

He stresses that this is not intended as a substitute for government support but as a critical supplement.

Myer says the successful implementation of new policy initiatives requires the sector to respond with an energetic view of itself and its own potential and the possibilities for such an energised future are already evident in many of the current trends.

He says that throughout his consultations around the country, the Inquiry observed the sector’s vibrancy and sophistication. It is also clear that the participants have a strong will to contribute to the sector’s successful development.

The Arts sector comprises around 20 000 visual artists and craft practitioners as well as curators, arts writers and other arts workers, and hundreds of organisations ranging from small artist-run initiatives to the major state galleries. The total value of Commonwealth support for the contemporary visual arts and craft sector in 1999–2000 is estimated to be about $18.3 million.

The Inquiry found that current funding levels make it increasingly difficult for these organisations to meet the rising expectations of artists, staff, the public and funding bodies, to exploit potential business and market development opportunities, and for some key organisations to provide leadership in the sector.

There is a high degree of competition for access to limited government funding, and as a result, a clear need for more flexible and varied sources of support for the contemporary visual arts and craft sector.

Myer says his consultations have suggested there is potential for a greater contribution from philanthropic and sponsorship sources to broadening the financial support base for the sector. There are a number of private individuals and organisations with a desire to contribute to the contemporary visual arts and crafts, but who are unaware of how their contribution would achieve the best outcome.

Only a small proportion of philanthropic donations and sponsorship funding is directed towards the visual arts and craft. An even smaller percentage of the funding for visual arts and craft is directed towards contemporary visual arts, and a smaller percentage again is directed to supporting contemporary craft.

The Inquiry believes that a modest amount of additional support would have a demonstrable and significant impact. Contemporary arts organisations tend to be run on very limited budgets, and a small amount of additional funding would allow these organisations to more comfortably achieve organisational goals, and extend their activities and programs in a way which benefits the broader arts community.

Private support for individual artists would also have a significant benefit, as visual artists and crafts practitioners tend to have limited incomes, and additional income will directly affect their ability to create work.

There is an understandable level of doubt in the sector regarding the availability of sponsorship in the contemporary visual arts and craft sector.

Myer says nevertheless, there are support mechanisms available to assist organisations seeking to make a business case for sponsorship. Many contemporary arts organisations are either not aware of this support, or are unable to make use of these mechanisms due to resource and time constraints.

He says overseas experience suggests that there is scope for governments to adopt a wide range of tax incentives and other measures to encourage a greater contribution from philanthropic and sponsorship sources. The Inquiry has recommended a number of measures to build on and promote existing arrangements to expand this funding source for the sector.

The Commonwealth Government says its will be seeking the views of the Australia Council, the State and Territory Governments and other key stakeholders in the sector in formulating its response to the Report’s recommendations.

If you would like an electronic copy of a ‘short version of report’ just send us an e-mail Please note the full report is large at 3.8mg so we have the Chairman’s Preamble, the Executive Summary and the chapter on Philanthropy.

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