Business philanthropy in the arts falls 11%

Jeremy Hunt Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced plans to boost corporate philanthropy in December

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The amount of money businesses invested in UK arts last year fell by 11%, figures show.

Arts and Business, which helps raise money for the cultural sector, said companies invested £144m, down from £157m the year before.

It comes nearly two months after Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced plans for a "year of corporate giving" to help boost private funding.

About 30% of FTSE 100 companies currently donate to the arts.

Arts and Business said that although companies were committed to working with the cultural sector, they were not "hard-wired" to do so.

The UK recession resulted in the lowest investment from businesses since 2003/4.

Simon Robey, chair of Royal Opera House, told the BBC it was "startling" so few of the UK's biggest companies were supporting the arts.

"These companies are some of the most important companies - the majority of them should be supporting the arts in one way, shape or form," he said.

Mr Hunt said he was hoping another 10 of the FTSE 100 companies would enter into a regular relationship with the cultural sector.

He told the BBC he would try to "play cupid" and match businesses with arts organisations to boost funding.

He added that he thought corporate philanthropy was a good opportunity for banks to gain a better reputation.

"If you are looking for ways to rehabilitate yourself in the public eye, then supporting things that really matter to society like the arts is an excellent thing to do," he said.

Individual philanthropy was also down 4%, to £359m, but an increase in funding from charitable trusts and foundations helped keep the overall decrease in private funding to 3%.

Figures were calculated above inflation to reflect the wider economy.

Colin Tweedy, chief executive of Arts and Business, said: "Cultural bodies wait on tenterhooks to discover their new financial settlements following local authority cuts and less national government money.

"At this time of cuts, much more is being asked of the private sector and of volunteers to create a 'big arts society'. Maybe we are set to see a new beginning when private investment becomes the dominant funding force of UK culture."

In October, Travelex founder Lloyd Dorfman donated £10m to the National Theatre to kick-start a £70m redevelopment of the Grade-II listed Cottesloe Theatre.

It will now be renamed in his honour.

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