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Culture secretary Maria Miller welcomes report on philanthropy

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Culture Secretary Maria Miller has reiterated her belief that philanthropy can plug funding gaps in the arts following the publication of a report examining "ways to unlock the potential of philanthropy".

Titled Removing Barriers, the report comes days after Nicholas Hytner and Danny Boyle hosted a conference at the National Theatre to discuss the difficulties faced by regional theatres in the wake of government spending cuts. 

The report's author is Roland Rudd, chairman of the Legacy10 campaign to increase charitable giving in the UK.

Welcoming Rudd's findings, Maria Miller said: "There is enormous potential for the arts to benefit from philanthropy over the next few years, and we need to look at new ways of unlocking it. Although income from the National Lottery is set to rise significantly now that we have restored the shares of proceeds going to the original good causes, other avenues of potential funding need to be considered. The economic climate means that philanthropic support for the arts, especially through legacies, will be ever more important in the years to come."

Removing Barriers, one of three reports into philanthropy commissioned by the Government (two are still to be published), recommends ten steps to increase philanthropic giving in the arts (see below).

Miller, who also acts as Minister for Women and Equality, continued: "Some of our arts and heritage bodies have built great relationships with their supporters in this area, but for all that, only seven percent of people currently leave a legacy in their will. And too many companies and organisations in the arts and heritage world still have no legacy giving scheme in place. So, they need to get better at asking for this kind of support. I want many more cultural organisations to benefit from legacies, and we will be happy to help make this a core element of greater giving to culture across society as a whole."

But many are sceptical whether philanthropy will be able to provide adequate relief for the swingeing spending cuts, which have seen the Arts Council's budget slashed from £449 million to £314 million a year. During last week's regional theatre conference, National Theatre artistic director Nicholas Hytner dismissed Miller's policy as "wishful thinking". He told Whatsonstage.com: "Private money follows public money. Philanthropists want to get behind success stories, not dig people out of a hole."

Roland Rudd's recommendations:

  • All three main political parties should agree a "non-regression" pledge in their 2015 manifestos which commits them to leave the existing Inheritance Tax reduction for legacy-giving untouched until the 2020 Parliament and beyond.
  • The Government should create a charities "tsar" to review and streamline policymaking on charities across Whitehall Departments. The review should also include the duplications inherent in the charities sector and suggest new structures where appropriate.
  • Secure a commitment from key advisor organisations to compel their members to raise philanthropy, and in particular the Inheritance Tax benefits of legacy giving, when discussing tax planning and will writing with their clients.
  • Companies in the FTSE-250 should be persuaded to provide financial advice and assistance to any employee who wants to make a pledge to charity in their will.
  • Government should implement targeted tax breaks for giving as a way of creating lifetime donors who will later leave a legacy. This should include a cut to the top rate of income tax for those who agree to make a planned, minimum period financial commitment to a charity.
  • Government and Charities should jointly: Oversee and create an online iTunes U training programme, made available for free to all legacy fundraisers across the UK; and plan a virtual legacy-giving academy to help share best practice in this area
  • Every registered charity in the UK should be required by the Charity Commission to provide evidence in its annual report of a legacy-giving strategy and the current income level from this activity.
  • People nominated for honours in the field of business should need to provide firm evidence of charitable giving and/or volunteering of time. Related to this, there should also be more honours given for philanthropy.
  • A new award should be created and supported by the Government, recognising the contribution of individuals who have shown exceptional innovation in the field of legacy-giving.
  • The organisations that Arts Council England supports should demonstrate philanthropic fundraising, including legacies.

    For more on the impact of government spending cuts on the arts, see whatsonstage.com/cuts

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