Arts bodies seek €10m in private funds

Eight arts organisations have been chosen to raise €10 million from the private sector under a new philanthropic initiative…

Eight arts organisations have been chosen to raise €10 million from the private sector under a new philanthropic initiative.

The Irish Film Institute, the Royal Hibernian Academy, Na Piobairi Uilleann, the Galway Arts Festival, the Model gallery in Sligo, the National Chamber Choir, the Wexford Festival Opera and the Gate Theatre have been chosen from a list of 68 organisations which will receive funding from the Arts Council through its Raise programme.

The eight will receive money to pay for a full-time fundraiser and they in will be asked in turn to raise €250,000 per annum each over the next three years.

The imperative to tap into the €500 million philanthropic sector in Ireland has become acute following a serious of cutbacks in taxpayers money which is available to the arts.

The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan warned that he will need to find a further 10 per cent savings in his €269 million department budget for next year.

Mr Deenihan convened a meeting of arts and philanthropic bodies at the Smock Alley Theatre this morning to discuss ways forward for funding the arts.

Encouraging philanthropic initiatives for the arts is part of the Programme for Government.

The Government has given €250,000 as part of a philanthropy Leverage Initiative to encourage arts organisations to fundraise the rest themselves.

Mr Deenihan stressed that philanthropic funding should not just be something to make up for the shortfall in state funding, but should be part of every arts body’s remit.

He stressed that arts organisations would not be “punished” for successful fundraising and that he hoped that state funding would continue to be provided at a high level

Arts Council chief executive Orlaith McBride said there needed to be a “cultural shift” in the arts towards looking for philanthropic donations.

Some 61 per cent of funding of arts in Ireland comes straight from the State.

She outlined that only 0.6 per cent of all philanthropic donations in Ireland go to the arts in comparison with 5 per cent of the total in the United States and 6 per cent in the UK.

Philanthropic donations amount to just 3 per cent of Irish arts revenue in comparison with 31 per cent in the United States and 7 per cent in the UK.

She maintained that percentage should be increased to between 20 per cent and 30 per cent and it is an achievable goal.

At present arts organisations are adept at funding for capital projects, but the aim is to continue that to fund current arts programmes.

She hoped that the fundraising know-how exhibited by the eight organisations in the question would filter down to smaller arts organisations.

She said philanthropy could not be a Friday afternoon activity but “absolutely core” to the principles involved.

Breda Kennedy, who worked in the non-profit sector in New York, for 14 years said philanthropy was linked “inextricable to the American identity” stemming from the confident “can-do” attitude which prevailed there.

She said the US Government is stingy towards the arts, but the American people compensate in a generous fashion.

Though philanthropy is part of the American way, she stressed that it helps that Governments provide incentives to do it.

“The inconvenient truth is that Americans who donate reap major tax advantages that the Irish don’t," she said.