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Arts Report Calls for Reform to Increase Philanthropic Giving


8 March 2012 at 8:46 am
Staff Reporter
A new report to the Federal Government calls for wide ranging reforms to increase philanthropic support for the Arts in Australia.


Staff Reporter | 8 March 2012 at 8:46 am


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Arts Report Calls for Reform to Increase Philanthropic Giving
8 March 2012 at 8:46 am

Photo: Courtesy Australia Business Arts Foundation (ABAF)

A new report to the Federal Government calls for wide ranging reforms to increase philanthropic support for the Arts in Australia.

Arts Minister Simon Crean released the Review of Private Sector Support for the Arts, which was chaired by businessman Harold Mitchell, and says that leadership is one of the most important characteristics to encourage private giving to the arts.

The report's major recommendations include transferring the Cultural Gift Program and Register of Cultural Organisation programs to the Australian Taxation Office.

As well, the Mitchell Report calls for the amalgamating the Australian Business Arts Foundation (AbaF) and Artsupport into a new organisation with responsibility for encouraging and facilitating all private sector support for the arts in Australia.

It also calls for the introduction of a matched funding program along with a taxation incentive for testamentary gifts to arts organisations and a program of recognition for significant donors through letters from the Prime Minister and the Minister.

Harold Mitchell says Australia has a relatively good track record of philanthropy and corporate support to the arts, and there are many notable examples of long–term generosity.

However, he says there is still potential to broaden and strengthen the base of giving to the arts in Australia.

“There is room for some of the existing initiatives to be refreshed, given the changing Government environment within which they operate, and a broader shift within the arts sector,” he said.

Mitchell says artists and arts organisations often lack the skills and expertise to be able to identify opportunities for private sector support and to develop their supporter base. This is in large part due to the cost and difficulty of attracting and retaining development staff.

“Donors value relationships as a key component of the giving transaction—whether giving is the result of private donations or corporate sponsorship. As an extension of this, donors are inclined towards providing support where there is a direct link
to an individual artist.”

“Leadership is one of the most important characteristics to encourage private giving to the arts. It is required at all levels, from recognition of the importance of the arts by political leaders, to major philanthropists and business leaders providing public examples of support for the arts, to national and large arts organisations supporting smaller organisations to develop the capacity to attract private sector support. The boards of arts organisations are an integral part of this equation. “

In order to enable arts organisations and individuals to easily accept support from the private sector, the report recommends the amalgamate the Australia Business Arts Foundation (AbaF) and Artsupport Australia (Artsupport) under the auspices of a new body with responsibility for all private sector support for the arts in Australia.

This includes reworking existing AbaF and Artsupport programs within the new framework to remove duplication and better coordinate with sector needs. The new organisation would be rebranded to reflect the revised structure.

The report says the new private sector support body should promote, extend and formalise its advisory services to provide a program of fundraising, sponsorship and philanthropy governance support to small to medium arts organisations, particularly in regional and remote areas.

It says it should expand its training activities to build the capacity of arts organisations to use their boards to attract and retain private sector support and should work with key arts training organisations to develop resources on seeking and retaining private sector support targeted at students and emerging artists.

To encourage more donors, the report says the Australian Government should conduct an awareness–raising program, targeting financial planners, taxation accountants and estate lawyers, providing information on taxation and testamentary giving incentives available to encourage private sector support for the arts.

Arts Minister Simon Crean says the Review was tasked to identify opportunities to broaden and strengthen the base of giving to the arts in Australia.

"The report highlights the success of many current initiatives such as the Cultural Gifts Program – however, it notes a clear need for a refreshed approach to increase private sector support," he says.

"Private philanthropy and sponsorship for the arts is vital for growth and durability; it enables artists and organisations to plan for the future and produce high-quality, challenging and relevant work."

Crean says the Federal Government will consider the recommendations as part of the development of the National Cultural Policy.

"The recommendations are far-reaching and some will require further consultation across a number of portfolios," Crean said.

"Mr Mitchell's dedication to the Review and its subject matter has ensured the delivery of a high-quality report with a long-term vision for private giving to the arts in Australia." 



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