Philanthropists 'can't replace funding cuts to arts'

They don't like the government wagging its finger at them, says arts chief

Orchestras chief talks about funding cuts
Orchestras chief talks about funding cuts

The government has "unreasonable expectations" that philanthropists can make up for funding cuts to arts organisations, according to Mark Pemberton, director of the Association of British Orchestras.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport unveiled a 10-point plan at the end of 2010 to boost philanthropy for the arts. Pemberton said it lacked detail and some proposals, such as increasing funding from endowments, were too long-term to help with the immediate spending cuts.

"The state has unreasonable expectations," he told an Acevo conference on philanthropy last week."Philanthropists have told me they don’t like the government wagging its finger at them. They can give, but they can also take away."

Pemberton said that the public spending cuts meant the feeling in the arts sector was "grim".

Marcelle Speller, a philanthropist and founder of the fundraising website Localgiving.com, told delegates that developments in technology, such as email alerts that people can set up to show news items that contain keywords, meant that charities would have to be more transparent.

"There are no good days to have bad news with things like Google Alerts," she said. "You can’t hide things. It shines a light on inconsistent claims, waste and inefficiencies." She said she set up such alerts for charities she was interested in.

Technology also presented huge benefits for charities, such as helping them to build relationships with supporters, and it had "democratised philanthropy", she said.

"Anyone can do philanthropy," she said. "We have to think about how we can develop products for every level of donor."

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