Whatever the immediate outcome of the forthcoming spending round and the funding allocation that ultimately wends its way to the arts, one thing is certain: in the future, there will be more arts organisations competing for less public money. This shift may not affect everyone in the same way; some companies and sub-sectors may find themselves better supported in the coming years than they have been in the past. However, many will not and lots of arts organisations will need to start looking for other sources of funding. At the same time (and just to pile on the doom and gloom), Government policy and technological advances are driving a massive expansion of the whole charitable sector and, consequently, demands on potential donors are increasing. The competition for funds already intense is only going to become fiercer still.
Alice Devitt (p16) is right. Arts organisations however well they are able to prove their social impact will never have the cachet of a charity which is combating cancer or challenging climate change. When competing for donations, arts organisations need to look at the parts they can reach that other charities cannot. What motivates individuals to give will vary from one to the next, and arts organisations vary too; some are in a good position to appeal to a potential donors philanthropic tendencies or social conscience, but others are in a much better position to parlay cash for social status. Friends rooms, priority booking and gala nights can be what it takes to persuade wealthy individuals to give money to the arts, and should be exploited for just this purpose. If the concept of donors paying to sip cocktails with the chorus line or partying with poets makes one feel a little uncomfortable, its worth remembering that these donations can be used to increase access to the arts for the less well off. After all, the billions spent on Lottery tickets by the Great British Public have funded the orchestra pits and upper circles of the cultural palaces of the bourgeoisie. What comes around goes around.
Liz Hill and Brian Whitehead