The Sydney Morning Herald recently published an article reporting that a rise in private donations has provided the Australian arts scene with a reprieve from an unprecedented fall in corporate sponsorship, a situation that is all too familiar to Asian arts scenes.

Click here to read “Sponsors exit stage left as private donors help fill void”.

Photo: Luis Enrique Ascu.

Corporate sponsorship decline not steep as anticipated

The article summarises that the dip in corporate sponsorship was an expected side effect of the global financial crisis. Jane Haley, the chief executive of the Australian Business Arts Foundation (ABaF), commented that the decline has “been rather better than may have been expected.” The rise in private donations reflected efforts by arts organisations to pursue donors over the past five to ten years, she explained.

Arts funding survey shows rise in private donations

The information in the article was gathered from a report produced by the Australia Business Arts Foundation, which surveyed private sector support of the arts from 2009 to 2010 in 318 arts and cultural organisations. The report found that sponsorship had decreased nationally by 2.7 percent last year,  but a 10.6 % increase in donations had prevented overall private-sector support from declining. Furthermore, the report found that private support had doubled since the period between 2001 and 2012 and that overall support for the arts had increased by 4.25 percent, with the performing arts garnering a majority of private support ( totaling $79 million), followed by galleries (with $51 million) and festivals ($31 million).

Click here to read the full report by the Australia Business Arts Foundation.

Australian Business Arts Foundation Awards winners at Her Majesty's Theatre. Left to right: Conny Wilson (SALA Fest); Lisa Sinclair (Vegemite); Fiona Lange (Little Big Book Club). Photo: Morne de Klerk.

Case study with resonance

However, private sponsorship compensating for a lack of funding in the arts is not isolated to Australia, and the report by ABaF report is one of particular relevance in Asia. In most countries in Asia, save for Hong Kong and Singapore, public or government support for the arts is minimal with most funding coming from private donations. Darwin Chen, Board member of the Asia Pacific Philanthropy Consortium (APPC), notes in an interview on art and philanthropy sponsorship that “most funding for the arts in Asia comes from private institutions, corporations or individuals. These primarily come from foundations with education as their main focus, and find a niche in the arts. Corporate sponsorship is regarded as strategic philanthropy: art as a means of generating community recognition and branding.”

Chen further reflects that despite the economic crisis, private sponsorship will continue on a similar level, just as in the case of Australia, but cautions that “there will be difficulty in getting new sponsors, especially corporate sponsors, as it would be a reduction in their own investment income. Art companies need to work harder to come up with imaginative schemes to gather more resources.”


Related Topics: arts fundingdevelopments in the nonprofit art sector, Australian art

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By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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