18 September 2003 at 1:09 pm
An innovative program to facilitate donations to artists and arts groups, in a move aimed at boosting cultural philanthropy in Australia and developing greater community engagement with the arts, has been unveiled.
Artsupport Australia is a joint initiative of the Australia Business Arts Foundation (AbaF) and the Australia Council for the Arts. AbaF and the Australia Council have each committed $750,000 to the program over three years.
Artsupport Australia has been described as a model for government-private sector partnerships. It will facilitate donations from foundations, organisations and companies – and under workplace giving arrangements, assist employees to make payroll contributions to arts groups with tax-deductible status.
Staff of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, the Australia Council and Macquarie Bank have signed up for regular salary deductions.
More than 500 businesses in Australia are facilitating workplace giving, supporting approximately 100 charities at average donations of $20,000 – 30,000 pa.
Charities receive monthly payments and no servicing fee is taken. In many cases employers match the donations of their employees.
There are three organisations running workplace giving programs in Australia. These are Australian Charities Fund, Charities Aid Foundation and The United Way.
Workplace Giving benefits employers, employees and charities (arts organisations with DGR status come under this definition). It represents a new opportunity for arts organisations to receive regular income without having to issue receipts to donors, so saving time and money. The full amount of the donation goes to the nominated charity.
Employees’ donations are deducted before tax is calculated. A tax benefit is received every time employees donate. Employees do not need to keep tax receipts or wait to claim donations with annual tax returns. In short, it makes giving easier than ever.
Employees have the choice of who they want to donate to, how much (as little as $2 per fortnight) and for how long. Currently, the organisation must have deductible gift recipient (DGR) status. However, Artsupport Australia is investigating the possibility of the Australia Cultural Fund being used to allow employees to donate to organisations and artists without DGR status.
Artsupport Australia received a major boost with a donation of $50,000 per year for three years from leading Sydney businessman Laurence Freedman.
The contribution will enable the Music Council of Australia, in partnership with the NSW Conservatorium of Music, to take jazz musicians into underprivileged schools.
The Co-chairmen of Artsupport Australia, James Strong and David Gonski, said Mr. Freedman’s generous gift was a terrific example of how individuals could target their own cultural interests through the Artsupport program.
Artsupport Australia’s two Directors are Louise Walsh, based in Sydney and Jane Haley, based in Melbourne.