New Arts Index shows decline in giving

New Arts Index shows decline in giving


There has been a sustained decline in private sector support for the arts, according to the first UK Arts index published by the National Campaign for the Arts (NCA). Business and individual giving fell by 17% and 13% respectively from 2007/8 to 2009/10 it shows.

There was a small rise in overall income between these two dates due to a 40% increase in National Lottery funds distributed in England to mitigate the impact of the recession, the NCA reports. The index does not reflect recent cuts to Arts Council England and local authority budgets.

The new index will track the health of the sector over time using 20 indicators and look at regional variations. It aims to help measure the effectiveness of initiatives to encourage philanthropic giving.

A similar index in the United States shows a steady decline in philanthropic giving over the past decade and the NCA says the decline in giving here and in the US are “worrying”. The report states: “Given the Government’s stated intention that cuts to the arts should be supplemented by philanthropic donations.”

Vernon Ellis, chairman of English National Opera, a member of the independent Philanthropy Review convened to explore the promotion of philanthropy, and who is now leading a drive for better data on giving, says: “In principle the Arts Index is a good idea, but it will only be as robust as the giving data on which it is based, some of which can be flaky in places. While I suspect that at an overall level the index is broadly right,  there is some difficulty around how funding is represented in some of the data sets; for example, it says that data on government support is from the Arts Council yet the big English museums are supported by DCMS directly, which is not mentioned. Similarly in Scotland, Scottish Opera, for example, is funded directly by the government.  Therefore the devil is in the detail and I suspect that this will need a lot of bedding down before we can rely on the detailed analysis.”

Arts & Business director of press Jonathan Tuchner adds: “There could be real value in an index that brings together the different streams of cultural research in this country. Only by doing so will it be possible to draw out the important overarching issues faced by the arts and when the NCA's Art Index finally achieves this goal it will be capable of making an important difference.

Any moment that can focus the wider public’s mind on the state of the arts in their community is a force for good. Arts & Business will continue to rigorously collect data to show the trends for growth and decline of private sector investment in the arts."

Its new analysis will be available from the middle of January 2012. They will be working more closely with the Arts Index to "ensure a shared message on the changing patterns of private sector investment across the UK.”