The government has recently announced a £55 million scheme to help art bodies build up endowment funds, aiding them to continue their long term existence. Around 50 organisations will compete for grants of up to £5 million. Ministers are hoping that this scheme will lead to an injection of £110 million (at least) of new money for the arts.
Jeremy Hunt, culture secretary, states,
“Many cultural organisations are fragile. They’re often led by talented, passionate people who rightly think that great art matters more than great money,” he said.
“Yet without financial security, fragility becomes vulnerability – and great art can sometimes wither on the vine.”
“Setting up an endowment is unusual. But it shouldn’t be. In the US, giants like the John Paul Getty Trust and the New York Met are built on massive endowments – $4.4bn and $1.9bn respectively.
“If we want to aim high, then shouldn’t our own world class institutions – large and small – have world class financial resilience?”
The coalition government has created this scheme as part of a £100 million package in a bid to boost cultural giving. This is funded by the department of culture, Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Ivan Lewi, shadow culture secretary, said,
“We are still waiting to see whether Jeremy Hunt’s repeated promises of significant new tax incentives for philanthropists will actually be delivered by the chancellor.
“By Mr Hunt’s own admission this fund will do nothing to help organisations currently scaling down activities and struggling to survive as a result of the Conservative-led government’s disproportionate cuts to the arts.”
However, Mr Hunt has said that culture has been “thriving” in the UK despite government spending cuts. This has perhaps been evidenced by the recent sales at various auction houses. Certainly, a new tax incentive for philanthropists might further this boom even more.