Alan Davey, Chief Executive, Arts Council England, welcomed the opportunity to look at the benefits and challenges of building endowments to create a more secure foundation for the performing arts in England.
The report sits alongside Neil MacGregor’s report on endowments for museums and galleries and acknowledges the important timing of the government’s philanthropy initiative. Now, more than ever, a creative and entrepreneurial approach to funding, which draws on both public and private sources, is required to ensure that the huge success story of the arts in the UK is sustained.
The Davey report reiterates the importance of the English mixed economy model: we have neither the dependence on public money that is a feature of the continental system; nor do we have the dependence on philanthropic and corporate giving that is the feature of the system in the US.
The report is also very clear that it is great art that will attract great philanthropists, and that for organisations large and small the production of outstanding art must always be the first and foremost priority.
It concludes that endowments are an underused tool in the arts sector, but provides a health warning that they are not and can never be the whole answer. For most organisations the urgent priority must be to significantly raise their fundraising capabilities and to build up their reserves. Reflecting on this, the report’s main recommendation is the introduction of an iconic match-funding scheme to dramatically boost general fundraising in arts organisations of all sizes, including those outside major urban conurbations.
Alan Davey said: “A match-funding scheme – pitched at the right scale – could trigger a radical shift in our fundraising culture.
“Yes, it’s an established technique – but this scheme needs to be of sufficient stature and magnitude to provide a real focus for a major philanthropy drive. And then it would also highlight the arts as a deserving good cause.
“Only through a boost of this sort, accompanied by actions to increase fundraising skills in the arts and to incentivise and recognise donors more comprehensively, will the longer-term goal of endowments be achieved.”
Based on the findings of the report, the Arts Council is now considering:
- The launch of a new programme to support organisations in training, mentoring and fundraising talent development, tendered to providers who are experts in these fields.
- The introduction of a major match-funding scheme
- Building an expectation of larger funded organisations to take a lead in the sector and help others grow their capacity
- A series of pilots looking at the opportunity of creating co-owned endowments that more than one organisation can drawn on
- A series of pilots looking at harnessing new trends in giving, and disseminating best practice
The report also recommends the following actions to government:
- Simplification of gift aid
- A review by HM Treasury of tax treatments available to potential donors – particularly those that will be attractive to people considering the gift of legacies. This should include a review of successful tax incentives in Canada, France and the US.
- A significant improvement in the recognition of donors by society, potentially through the Honours system.
Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport said: “I would like to thank Alan Davey and Neil McGregor for their excellent reports on endowments. This is not a short term venture but the beginning of a long process that will pay big dividends in the future and these reports are a great start.”
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Notes to editors
Arts Council England works to get great art to everyone by championing, developing and investing in artistic experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of artistic activities from theatre to music, literature to dance, photography to digital art, and carnival to crafts. Great art inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves, and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2008 and 2011, we will invest £1.3 billion of public money from government and a further £0.3 billion from the National Lottery to create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.