Can philanthropy save the arts? No it can't, at least according to the Tricycle Theatre's Nicholas Kent, the Serpentine's Julia Peyton-Jones, banker and philanthropist John Studzinski, and Colin Tweedy from Arts & Business.
It was during one of those panel discussions, in which I was taking part, where the panellists respond to the question before chatting it through with an audience. I thought it was an odd question to pose. First of all it presupposes the arts need saving, which nobody in the room thought they did.
It also casts the arts as victim and the philanthropist as saviour, which is not how most arts organisations see themselves. And it seems to overlook the fact that there are vast tracts of the arts that survive without any philanthropy and very little state funding such as book publishing, architecture, pop-jazz-world music, films and design.
Which is not to say that philanthropy shouldn't be encouraged, it should. But maybe it should start closer to home? I'm talking about the big nationals and a couple of high profile, London-based elite organisations that between them hover up the vast majority of philanthropic giving (around 80%) but represent a tiny minority (4%) of the country's arts institutions. They'll be fine come the implementation of the cuts.
But what about all those smaller regional arts centres around the country whose work is valuable to their communities but are facing the double hit of national cuts via Arts Council England and local government cuts. The stats suggest that they'll be no sharp-suited philanthropist to bail them out.
So, why don't the big arts institutions help them out? They could do so by "twinning". I know it's a bit naff when it comes to a windswept seaside town coupling up with one in southern Spain, but in the arts it could work: a major institution getting together with a much smaller arts outfit in the regions.
The big national company could help fundraise for their smaller "twin", share their administrative load and provide a bit of staff mentoring. And crucially the major arts organisation could use their marketing muscle and relationship and huge audience reach to promote the programme of the smaller organisation.
A struggling arts company would gain confidence and more knowing a major national institution was fighting their corner while also sharing their good fortune, not to mention a philanthropist or two.
The National Theatre has been doing this sort of thing for a while and I am told it's working well.