The Playgoer: "The arts have always had a difficult time competing with hospitals and diseases''

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Monday, February 04, 2008

"The arts have always had a difficult time competing with hospitals and diseases''

For private $, that is.

If anyone still doubts a recession is immanent, it sure ain't arts orgs. Bloomberg's Patrick Cole tells how companies are adjusting: mainly by asking for those yearly checks early, like now.

After all, competition of philanthropy dollars has always been stiff, and now gets stiffer:

Donations to the arts trail gifts to religious groups and educational and health-care institutions. Arts groups fear the pain will be worse in a recession. According to the latest figures by Giving USA Foundation, a research program of the Giving Institute, religious groups received the most donations in 2006, $96.8 billion, while arts and culture got $12.5 billion.

"The arts have always had a difficult time competing with hospitals and diseases,'' said Jane Robinson, president of the board of the Florida Grand Opera, based in Miami. "Our biggest donors will not make a change. It's the middle-of-the-road donor who has to decide how to cut back.''

Ah the wisdom of the free marketplace. Who needs government subsidy when the invisible hand will always put resources where they belong.

Like churches.

$96. 8 billion compared to $12.5??? And here I was thinking the selling of indulgences went out in the 16th century.

1 comment:

Freeman said...

As someone who works for a religious organization, I'll add that the piece of the pie for everyone is simply getting smaller. Religous organizations once received (in the 60s) around half of all charitable donations. Now it's between 35 and 40%.

The arts/humanities, in the same period, get more of a percentage than they used to actually. It used to be around 4% and now it's around 6%.

(All of this is from some figures I got at a conference at Wachovia... for those interested.)

What's also interesting is that the number of 501(k)3s is far larger than it it ever was before. In 1995 there were just above 600,000 501(c)3s. Ten years later, there were over 1 million.

So there are more and more orgs competing for donations anyhow.

That doesn't explain why Americans give to religion so much more than they give to the Arts...but it does show, I think, that Religion has actually taken a big hit, proportionally.