Arts & Business lobbies for private funding incentives

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Arts & Business chief executive Colin Tweedy is calling on the government to create incentive schemes for private donors who sponsor cultural organisations, in order to boost investment and maintain the health of the arts industry.

His comments follow the fifth round of Arts Council England's Sustain funding programme, in which 19 of the 33 organisations receiving grants - including Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre, the Sage Gateshead and the Lowry - cited loss of income from trusts, foundations and corporate sponsors as a reason for their cash-flow problems.

Tweedy said the financial backing of the arts from private sponsors would continue to fall over the coming years and would not climb to the all-time high level of £686 million, achieved in 2007/8, until 2013.

However, he said the government should do more to encourage such investment, as the private sector would recover from the recession much faster than the public sector, which he warned had been damaged "for a generation" and would not see growth for another eight to ten years.

Tweedy said A&B is lobbying for the government to reestablish incentive schemes for businesses, such as initiatives to match funds donated by philanthropists.

He told The Stage: "For most arts organisations of any size, public sector funding is not a majority of their funding any longer, so they are not as reliant on it. But inevitably if the private sector is down, which it is, there is going to be trouble.

"We can't just watch the gradual erosion of private money from the sidelines, we have to be very active in pushing for incentives for the business community."

ACE's two-year £40 million Sustain programme was set up to help arts organisations through the recession. So far, a total of £28 million has been awarded.

In the latest tranche of funding, Newcastle's Live Theatre received £923,000 to help offset a loss of income, pay for improvements to the building, and fund a digital writing scheme.

Other major grants went to The Sage Gateshead, which received £901,000, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic was granted £717,000, and £720,000 went to Sadler's Wells.

Meanwhile, Graeae Theatre, York Theatre Royal, and the New Vic Theatre were also awarded funds.

Ian Herbert on Sustain funding, page 10