NiTRO Creative Matters

Perspectives on creative arts in higher education

Philanthropy and tertiary arts: The future for sustainable art education?

Although not at the US investment levels, donations and endowments to major arts companies and to tertiary institutions to support their arts endeavours and education increasing in Australia, but as the Australian Major Performing Arts Group reports, such giving is volatile and inconsistent across the sector.

The US is frequently singled out as a leader in philanthropic donation to the arts. In September alone, two major gifts of US$5 million were announced. One by the Getty Institute to support an African American Art History Initiative and another by US Art dealer Jane Lombard to the Vera List Centre for Art and Politics.

Although not at the US investment levels, donations and endowments to major arts companies and to tertiary institutions to support their arts endeavours and education are increasing in Australia, but as the Australian Major Performing Arts Group reports, such giving is volatile and inconsistent across the sector.

As contributors to this edition of NiTRO explain, securing philanthropic generosity takes time to build relationships – a task often left to University Development or Advancement Offices charged with raising support for the entire institution. Yet as our contributors note, it is engagement with those who are immediately connected and passionate about the work that consolidates relationships and, in the majority of tertiary institutions, time for this activity is not factored in to already busy academic workloads. With such limitations, how can the tertiary arts sector as a whole capitalise upon increased prospective donor interest?

Perhaps one option is to guide and train creative arts students themselves how to engage with donors as a way to secure support not only for their artistic education but also their future careers as professional artists. A recent article in the New York Times suggests a shift in donor behaviour that would support such an approach:

“For many years, patrons were supporting institutions or a product, underwriting this ballet or putting their name on a specific show at a museum … Today … donors understand how important it is to support artists – not just the art.”

In this edition of NiTRO:

Bethany Serow (Executive Director Australian Major Performing Arts Group), discusses the recently released report on philanthropic funding for Major Performing Arts companies

Wendy Scaife (QUT) gives us the statistical lowdown on the state of giving in Australia today

Ann Tonks (University of Melbourne and locum CEO for Chunky Move Dance Company) explores the competition between universities and private arts organisations and explores the importance of passion in philanthropic success

Campbell Grey (University of Queensland) shares the preparation, processes and impacts of receiving a major university endowment

Fiona Menzies (CEO, Creative Partnerships Australia) considers gifting from the perspective of a major arts donor

Fiona Salmon (Flinders University) explains the crucial role that University Art Museums play in the gifting process

and Melinda Rackham (University of South Australia) draws upon high profile Australian donations and endowments to explore some of the lessons for tertiary arts philanthropy.

[1] Miller, J. (2017) Suffering for Your Art? Maybe You Need a Patron. The New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/17/fashion/what-is-a-patron.html

More from this issue

Giving not Given

Offering a tax-exempt twelve-month stipend of US$50,000, international institution fees for an academic year, return airfares, insurances and

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More from this issue

I was recently bailed up by a man working in a state government, bemoaning that Australia’s wealthiest people are not giving enough to the arts. “Why should they?” I asked him.

Offering a tax-exempt twelve-month stipend of US$50,000, international institution fees for an academic year, return airfares, insurances and assurances of exposure and professional connection, a Samstag Scholarship is often labelled a ‘golden passport to success’ in Australian art circles. Undoubtedly, in the 25 years since its inception, 140 Australian visual artists have benefited from this generous philanthropic bequest - many becoming household names.

Every year Australian university art museums (UAMs) are enriched by the generosity of individuals and philanthropic bodies who share a passion for the visual arts. This includes giving in the form of cultural gifts, cash donations, bequests and endowments that are critical to the development of university collections, art museum programs and facilities.

In 2014 Paula Kinnane made an $8 million gift to the University of Queensland. 50% of the donor’s contribution was made to create an endowment for the UQ Art Museum and an equal amount was given to create an endowment for the UQ School of Music. It is estimated that together these two endowments constitute the largest private gift to the arts in the history of Queensland.

There’s a certain irony about teaching philanthropy to future arts and cultural managers at a university because universities are amongst the major competitors of arts organisations for philanthropy managers.

As a nation, we spend five times as much on alcohol as we claim in tax deductible donations each year … It’s worth asking what’s afoot in Australian giving and where arts givers/giving sit within this.

The release of the 2018 report, Tracking changes in corporate sponsorship and donations by the Australian Major Performing Arts Group (AMPAG) shows that revenue from sponsorship and donations is up for Australia’s major performing arts companies overall, but that the increase is volatile and uneven across the sector. NiTRO Editor Jenny Wilson highlights the 2018 findings and, in correspondence and conversation with AMPAG Executive Director Bethwyn Serow, explores what this might mean for creatives who study, work and practice in tertiary education.