The headline and lead in today’s The Australian ’Arts Policy totally inadequate’ page 2 (11/7/13) are at best misleading. In our view it failed to reflect the focus and emphasis of our follow up conversation. AMPAG publicly welcomed the Creative Australia policies launched by Simon Crean in April and the funding that supported the policy in the federal government’s May budget.
AMPAG also supports the introduction of a matching fund to encourage and broaden the culture of giving in the arts.
Private donations and corporate sponsorship directed to performing arts companies do make a vital contribution to the companies’ capacity in areas such as artistic development and mentoring, building new audiences (here and abroad) and inspiring the participation of young people and the broader community through education and community workshops.
But as AMPAG’s report Tracking changes in donations and corporate sponsorship shows, private sector support dipped for the major companies—in 2012 philanthropy fell by 1.6 per cent.
Over the 12 year period of the survey, total revenue from private giving has increased by 119.9 per cent with earnings tracking ahead of CPI. To maintain this moment – especially in the light of the dip in 2012 – government’s role as an enabler of philanthropy is vital. Australia has a relatively good track record of philanthropy and corporate support to the arts, and there are many notable examples of long–term generosity. However, there is still potential to broaden and strengthen the base of giving to the arts in Australia.
In Australia and overseas, matched funding programs have proven an effective incentive for encouraging increased private sector support from businesses and individuals. In Australia, a number of programs at the state level have reaped positive results.
Creative Partnerships Australia is the body that has been established by this Government to support and develop private giving. We are waiting to see how the matched funding initiative will roll out in year one. If we are to build the philanthropic support for the performing arts and the rest of the creative industries sector then this initial commitment of about $3 million in year one and $4 million in year two will provide opportunities to road test the concept.
But we believe it is the first step not the end game. The Mitchell report on Private Giving identified two areas where matched funding could make an enormous contribution to the arts—building core endowments and attracting new individual and corporate donors—and more funds will be needed to deliver on both these goals.