Entertainment & Arts

Digital funding scheme launched for the arts

Griff Rhys Jones
Image caption Jones launched the mobile donation scheme at London's Southbank Centre on Tuesday

A new scheme to encourage visitors to arts institutions to give donations using their mobile phones has received the backing of actor Griff Rhys Jones.

The comedian and presenter said the Donate initiative would help reduce "embarrassment about asking for money".

The project, involving 12 theatres and galleries, hopes to raise funds using text message codes.

Culture minister Ed Vaizey called it a "great idea" to begin "harnessing new technologies".

Visitors to exhibitions and theatres will be encouraged to text donations using their mobile phone while they are at the venue.

The scheme, which was first announced last summer by the then culture minister Jeremy Hunt, will be rolled out nationally by the end of 2013.

Sir Paul Ruddock, of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, said it was important to "make it easy for visitors to give and show their appreciation".

The money raised will help fund specific campaigns, such as the restoration of the Royal Festival Hall organ at Southbank Centre.

Other venues hoping to increase donations from their visitors include the Almeida Theatre in London, the Baltic Centre in Gateshead, Bath's Holburne Museum and the Octagon Theatre in Bolton.

"We believe the scheme will deliver incremental income to institutions at a time when the cultural sector feels the pain of an ongoing recession and funding cuts," said Donate's Robert Dufton.

Last December the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) announced cuts of £11.6 million to Arts Council England funding that followed a 30% budget reduction in 2010.

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