Unicorn Theatre, Hampstead Theatre and Shape Arts have been listed among the charities yet to pay the controversial voluntary levy charged by the Regulator for policing fundraising activity.

Artwork at Ikon Gallery
Artwork at Ikon Gallery, one arts organisation yet to pay the Regulator's levy

More than 15 arts organisations, including several of Arts Council England’s (ACE) National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs), are yet to pay for the running costs of the new Fundraising Regulator.

Charities spending over £100k a year on fundraising are “expected” to pay an annual levy to the Regulator, starting from £150 and rising according to their expenditure on generating voluntary income.

But NPOs including Ikon Gallery, Hampstead Theatre, the Unicorn theatre and Shape Arts are yet to pay.

In the interests of “transparency and fairness”, the Regulator has now decided to publish a list of the charities which have paid or committed to pay and those which have not paid its year 1 levy.

“The charities listed as non-payers comprise those who either refused to contribute to the levy, or have not responded to our communications,” it adds.

Other arts organisations listed as having failed to pay include:

  • Camden Arts Centre
  • The Contemporary Art Society
  • Creative & Cultural Skills
  • English National Opera
  • Garsington Opera
  • Grange Park Opera
  • Ikon Gallery
  • Old Vic
  • Opera Holland Park
  • Polka Theatre
  • Rambert (which intends to pay in Year 2)
  • Shape Arts
  • South London Gallery
  • Unicorn Theatre
  • Watermill Theatre

A spokesperson from English National Opera, which is set to re-join ACE’s portfolio from 2018, told AP the organisation intends to pay. “The Fundraising Regulators are aware of this and we requested an invoice from them in July,” they added.

Many other arts organisations including English National Ballet, Clean Break and the National Theatre have already paid.

Controversial payment

The Regulator, set up to “restore public trust in fundraising”, has been questioned for its own fundraising tactics. In February, AP reported on a complaint about correspondence from the Regulator implying the voluntary annual levy was compulsory. The complainant – Children and the Arts, which has subsequently paid – told AP that neither the issued invoice, covering email or terms & conditions mentioned that the payment was voluntary and would in effect be a donation.

Addressing concerns at the time, a spokesperson for the Regulator said: “We have been very clear that the levy is voluntary. All charities who are expected to pay received a letter telling them that it is voluntary and our website also states that the fee is not mandatory.

“That said, it is expected that charities contribute.”

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Comments

Creative & Cultural Skills is named in AP's article as a non-payer of the new Fundraising Regulator's 'voluntary' levy. We haven't paid it's true but, as my chair, company secretary and I have all explained to the Regulator, Creative & Cultural Skills does not spend anywhere near £100k p.a. on fundraising activity and never has. We don't therefore believe we are 'in scope' for the payment. The Fundraiser doesn't reply to emails or letters. It just 'escalates' the invoice to the chair and board. A £150 payment is modest, I agree, but I think there's a bigger principle here. Either it's a voluntary levy or it isn't. Publishing non-payers in the interests of 'transparency and fairness' is disingenuous. The Regulator is behaving like a mobile phone company who refers a dispute to the debt-collector without engaging with the client. I would like to think that a Fundraising Regulator is there to promote good practice, not emulate the behaviour that drew attention to the problem in the first place. Pauline Tambling, CBE, CEO Creative & Cultural Skills

Hampstead Theatre is named in AP's article as a non-payer of the voluntary levy. We have not paid the levy because we have never been asked to do so. If the Regulator gets in touch we will address the matter at that point. But, to date, we have received no communication whatsoever from them. Whether or not this situation inspires confidence in the Regulator I leave for others to judge. Greg Ripley-Duggan, Executive Producer Hampstead Theatre