Friday, March 21, 2014

Give a little, give a lot

How’s Boosted going we hear you ask again. In its first nine months in action Boosted raised “over $250,000.” Not too bad but it does cover all the art forms and it's nowhere near the amount raised by say the Venice Patrons, for instance. Still Boosted has pulled together $69,000 for the visual arts (but again $25,000 of that was almost certainly set-up in advance with the Christchurch Art Gallery to give everyone a cliff-hanger last minute win).

For all the talk by the government about philanthropy (“a priority to encourage increased private sector giving in addition to, not instead of, existing levels of public support for the arts and cultural organisations”) it doesn't exactly lead from the front. For a start, there's no real incentives out there. Ok the IRD returns a third of cash donations to registered charities based on income and there was a specific one-off $95,000 dollar-for-dollar pilot scheme for the arts, but there's no sign of anything serious like US incentives in the form of deductions on works gifted to collections for example.

And then there's the reality of where the money raised actually comes from. Look at a big money project like the Len Lye Centre. $1 million came from the private sector via the TSB although that was five years ago - before the Government's philanthropy flurry. Then more private sector cash with Todd Energy coming up with $3 million no doubt delighted how much its Len Lye efforts have  helped allay concerns around fracking at the Mangahewa gas and condensate field near Waitara. But philanthropy at the individual level failed to catch only bringing in $200,000. The rest of the Len Lye Centre fund-raising came directly or indirectly from the state via $4 million from the Ministry for Culture and Heritage and $3.2 million from the Lotteries Commission. And let's not forget the local body contribution to refit and running costs.

In the end filling out forms and doing meetings with Government Departments and keeping in good with the local Council still gets you a better return than a charm offensive on the private sector.