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Philanthropy in the regions

February 8, 2014

The push to garner more funds for museums from philanthropy has been a hard one in recent times, especially for organisations outside London.  The capital has become bigger and richer in recent times in comparison with the rest of the nation.  The sources of philanthropy and sponsorship, large companies, have increasingly moved their headquarters to London or even further afield.  Even if a large business is present near a provincial museum, its likely that its marketing team are centralised, in London, or elsewhere.  It is estimated that 82% of business sponsorship to the arts goes to London based organisations and private giving is even more skewed.

Hold on you may think, at least the public sector will counteract this disparity between the regions and London, but actually central government funding also pours most of its funds into London.  A recent report “Rebalancing Our Cultural Capital” suggests that funding from Department for Culture, Media & Sport and its allied quango, the Arts Council, direct 75% of their (English) funding to London cultural bodies (including museums).  Remember London’s population is less than 16% of the population of England. Regional museums that do receive public funding are often reliant on local government funding.  Unfortunately local government funding is being cut back more drastically than central government (at least in relation to culture).

The Clifton under threat in the 60s

The Clifton under threat in the 60s

Regional museums that do attract new funding tend to succeed in raising it from, grant making bodies (Heritage Lottery), commercial income (venue hire) or using new technology (like crowd funding).  To give one example (OK its not a museum) the Clifton Community Art Centre in Wellington is seeking crowd funding to  develop a non profit venue, in this case a theatre and art centre.  The public are invited to buy community shares into this non profit making organisation.  Innovative fundraising is essential if you want to survive these days!

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