Arts and philanthropy

Written by: Evan Lowensteins
After doing some reading over the holiday period, I discovered a report “Giving Attitude” by Creative Partnerships Australia – formerly Australian Business Arts Foundation (ABAF) – the government agency that is involved in arts philanthropy. They are responsible for marshalling private sector involvement in the arts; and also manage the Australian Cultural Fund (ACF) that was established in 2003 to encourage donations to the arts.
According to their last report in November 2019, they estimated total private sector support in Australia to be $608 million. This support was attributed across arts and cultural organisations via philanthropic donations and grants, cash and in-kind business sponsorship, as well as the value of volunteering.
The report surveyed the results of some 500 arts organisations. Of the smaller independent arts organisations, on average it found that private sponsorship made up around 25% of all funding.
Importantly, most of the organisations surveyed expected that percentage to increase.
Private philanthropy is an important factor that supports the arts because more and more of the arts community are dependent on the good deeds of the private sector, businesses and individuals. In large degree this reliance is due to the lack of government involvement in the arts in both financial and policy areas. In the absence of a large amount of government funding and taking into account many recent cuts, many arts practitioners are turning to the private sector to seek alternative funding channels.
Historically, some forward-looking corporations and individuals have often been motivated to give to the arts.
The philosophy of philanthropy is based on a desire to contribute to the community for either purely altruistic motives or maybe for marketing or tax driven advantages. In any case, over the last fifty years or so all arts sectors have benefited from philanthropy in one way or another.
In the early days of philanthropy in Australia, especially post war, we have seen the emergence of large private, mainly European families who have risen to the occasion and, largely motivated by a desire to foster the arts as a means to a civilized society, have given generously and widely.
Now some of these large family groups are slowly declining due to age and generational change.
From recent personal experience, I have been heartened to meet and discover that there is a whole host of large private companies that have set up foundations to foster an interest in the arts.
This has been achieved through the relatively new Private Ancillary Funds or Public Ancillary Funds system.
Some of the established Funds are being carried forward by the younger generation; and some new ones are giving funds to benefit the arts community.
There are also a large number of foundations that are not household names but are, in fact, very generous in supporting their love of the arts and for those looking for benefactors, they are certainly well worth looking up. Creative Partnerships Australia is a very valuable resource to artists and the arts in general, so it would be a good idea to explore that body to see if it can be of assistance to you.
Lowensteins has a separate division headed up by Evan Lowenstein that can assist our clients in sourcing and applying for funds.
Please feel free to call our office should you be interested.