The Wall Street Journal explains the penchant for hitting up wealthy Americans for support to European cultural institutions. It turns out that Contemporary art vies with Opera for the esteem of plutocrats. But Art wins in the end. Here’s why:
Iconic cultural institutions like the Tate, the Mariinsky and the Louvre all have set up American or international “friends groups” in the last decade, in part to cash in on donations coming from the U.S. and to allow American supporters to take advantage of domestic tax write-offs.
“They have focused much more on the overseas market, and particularly the American market, since about 2000,” said Richard Busby, chief executive of BDS Sponsorship Ltd., a consultancy based in the U.K. that specializes in funding in the culture and leisure sectors. Mr. Busby said he was seeing a particular shift among cultural organizations in continental Europe, which, with a few exceptions, are catching up to the U.K. and the U.S. in terms of developing robust fundraising operations.
The increased importance of private funding has opened up more opportunities for donors. Most cultural organizations offer trips, special exhibitions, tailored lunches and tours, as well as galas or concerts to individuals who open their hearts — and their wallets — to support projects.
That also means opportunities for networking. “The research I’ve seen shows that opera and contemporary art are the two most popular among captains of industry and politicians,” Mr. Busby said. “If you go to a concert, the networking opportunities are much more limited than they are in museums or galleries, where you can stand around and have a glass of wine in front of the works of art and still talk to people.”
The Culture of Giving (Wall Street Journal)