Arts attract record spending

February 01, 2000

Support for arts at record high

Business investment in arts sponsorship reached a record high of £141 million last year, according to figures released by Arts & Business on January 18. Based on a survey of arts organisations, not corporate sponsors, the findings show growth of 23%, with nearly half the resources going to just 26 major beneficiaries, each raising over £1 million. The biggest increase was in capital projects, up from £19.4 million to £35.2 million, with big rises also in the regions – double in Scotland and up by more than a half in Wales.

Meanwhile Joanna Lumley presented the Arts & Business national awards in December, sponsored by The Financial Times . After 21 years as the ABSA Awards, the new scheme reflects the broader remit of Arts & Business extending to the use of arts in employee development, training and the working environment. Among the seven main winners were four financial services companies: Bank of Scotland , Barclays, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter and Royal Bank of Scotland . Contact Paul Brown, Arts & Business, on 020 7378 8143 (

UK’s biggest arts prize launched

Prize money of £200,000 is being offered through the Creative Britons Awards, the UK’s biggest arts prize being sponsored for the second year running by Prudential. The aim is to identify the people whose vision, leadership and imagination have contributed most to the UK’s cultural wealth. The six winning individuals each receive £20,000 to donate to an arts project of their choice, with one overall winner receiving a total of £100,000. Last year’s overall winner was Mary Ward, the inspirational leader of the Chicken Shed Theatre for children of all abilities, who used the money to secure the future of the theatre company. Announced on January 13, Arts & Business, the awards’ organiser, is now seeking nominations for this year’s prize. Contact Paul Brown, Arts & Business, on 020 7378 8143 (

Bank helps hospital music

Twenty years ago, the Council for Music in Hospitals extended from England to Scotland its scheme giving concerts for the sick, elderly or disabled in hospital or long-term care. To celebrate the anniversary, the Council is arranging 2,000 concerts during the year 2000, benefiting at least 40,000 people, with financial support from the Bank of Scotland . Contact Lauren Hendry, BoS, on 0131 243 7058 (

News in brief

Three new plays for young people aged 10-14 have been commissioned by Sainsbury’s Checkout Theatre – the £500,000 scheme to promote new theatre work for the youth and family market – it was announced on December 15. Contact Fiona Matthews, Sainsbury’s, on 020 7695 7851 (

Students at three Ealing secondary schools are to create and perform their own opera with the help of the English National Opera’s directors, composers, instrumentalists, singers and designers, it was announced on January 7, as part of its Baylis Programme, supported by Glaxo Wellcome . Contact Claire Jowett, Glaxo Wellcome, on 020 7493 4060 (

The Barclays Stage Partners Spring 2000 season was announced on January 13 – 4 major productions will tour to over 20 venues across the UK between February and May. Contact Alice McQuillin, Kallaway, on 020 7221 7883 (

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter is sponsoring the Encounters – new art from old exhibition at the National Gallery, which invites contemporary British artists to choose a painting from the Gallery’s collection and respond to it with a work of their own. Contact National Gallery on 020 7747 2865 (


Last year was a boom year for the arts. Why? Not yet due to repositioning old ABSA from narrow sponsorship to wider links between business and arts (although ultimately that is the strategy behind new Arts & Business). More immediately, the renaissance in regional awareness in Scotland and Wales with a parliament and an assembly respectively is one factor. More powerful still is the demand for matched funding from the lottery-inspired building bonanza currently underway, such as the new £134 million Tate Modern due to open in London this May.

But this is not a one-off spurt. Capital funding one year leads to revenue requests the next as the running costs of these grand schemes mount. Government policy is strongly against entrance charges and Arts Council funding is becoming tied to open door policies. So inevitably companies are being asked to step in, as indeed the Tate is doing with a Founding Corporate Partners club – seeking 24 companies each contributing £250,000 each.

Companies with a clear business case, capable of rigorous evaluation, will be happy to pay – often focused on specific ‘elite’ audiences (perhaps explaining the proliferation of banks in the sponsorships we report above?). Others will want to think long and hard about what this sort of money buys in the arts, or could buy elsewhere. Unhappy sponsors of the Dome at Greenwich have all year to ponder the fact that large sums spent without a decent business case yield poor returns.

Corporate Citizenship Briefing, issue no: 50 – February, 2000