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Arts sponsorship and donations revenue rises in volatile and uneven climate

Arts sponsorship and donations revenue rises in volatile and uneven climate
September 30, 2018

Revenue from corporate sponsorship, donations and net fundraising events within the major performing arts sector continues to track ahead of consumer price index levels, increasing by $15.4 million or 16.1% on 2016 results to $111.1 million in 2017.

As reported by the Australian Major Performing Arts Group (AMPAG), of this total, 65.1% was received as donations, 32.2% was from corporate sponsorship and a net amount of 2.7% came from fundraising events.

The 16.1% growth in total private sector earnings was significantly higher than the growth reported in the groups total earnings of 4.3%.

Private giving made up 19% of total income in 2017, up 17% in 2016.

Commenting on AMPAG’s release of its latest annual survey of fundraising - Tracking changes in corporate sponsorship and donations 2018 - Executive Director Bethwyn Serow advised “the support of individual donors, trusts and corporate partnerships is incredibly important for the arts sector.

“While revenue from sponsorship has been growing in line with CPI, donations have gained more share of the total revenue, tracking well ahead of CPI and driving the overall increase in earnings for the sector. The consistent and heartening increase in both the number of donors - up 15.9% - and in the average donation value - up $179, reflects a broadening base of and increasing engagement among donors.

“With 50,379 donors supporting the MPAs in 2017, up 6,897 people on 2016 is further testament to the growing recognition of the importance and value of the arts for Australians. This support has helped to enable the companies to develop artists and creatives, as well as commission new works, strengthen sector infrastructure and ensure broad access to large scale and highly accomplished performances, quality arts education programs and workshops and continue their custodianship of their respective artforms’ said Bethwyn Serow ‘and there is always more that needs to be achieved.

“However, donations income is a volatile source of revenue, and the peaks and troughs in the rate of increase in earnings over the past 17 years highlight the unpredictability of this source of income for individual companies. In 2017, 14 companies reported an increase in donation income greater than 20%, while nine companies reported earning less from this source compared to 2016. ‘Fund raising growth has been driven in part by a high number of special one-off capital fundraising campaigns and we may see further ‘corrections’ in future years.”

Cost efficiency on the raising of donations has improved by 22% on 2016 levels, with costs at 14.5% of total donation income compared to 18.6 % in 2016. This is the lowest ratio recorded since 2007. Despite more people being employed to raise donation income, the additional income raised is greater than the added cost.

In 2001, corporate sponsorship made up 71.6% of total sponsorship and donations revenue. By 2017, this share had fallen to 32.2%. Reported sponsorship earnings of $35.8 million were down $1.3 million (3.6%) on 2016 results, and down $0.4 on 2015 but $300,000 above 2014. This brings the overall results closer the 2011 levels adjusted for CPI. The decrease was evenly spread with 14 of the 28 companies reporting decreases on 2016.

Cash sponsorship is giving way to in-kind support. Since 2001, cash sponsorship has increased by just $5.8 million (a decline in real terms) and in-kind support has increased by $9.6 million, driving the growth in this sector. Cash sponsorship is more beneficial to major performing arts companies as it provides greater financial flexibility and is more readily quantifiable, but it is becoming increasingly harder to obtain and more difficult and expensive to service.

Fundraising and event income net earnings of $3.0 million reported by 21 companies were down 23.6% on 2016 levels and were dominated by nine NSW companies that made up 83.9% of the result. Four companies reported major decreases and a further eight reported small declines.

AMPAG Chair John Irving added “the overall results are to be celebrated. Philanthropy is a key enabler of artistic development, as well as infrastructure, but I am also aware that the environment in which funds are raised varies across state jurisdictions, as does the size and reach of the individual companies. Growing sponsorship and philanthropic support takes time, resources and a willingness to deepen the public’s understanding, not only of the organisation today- but also a sense of what they could become and what might be developed for future generations.”

The 2018 AMPAG Tracking changes in corporate sponsorship and donations report was prepared in partnership with Creative Partnerships Australia.

Main image: Opera Australia's co-production of My Fair Lady.

Related Articles

8th August 2018 - Philanthropic, business and cultural leaders honoured at Creative Partnership Awards

27th February 2018 - Creative Partnership Awards to celebrate leaders who support for the arts

17th December 2017 - Australian Major Performing Arts Group condemns harassment and bullying

17th November 2017 - Private sector support for the performing arts grows to record levels

5th October 2017 - Live performance industry generates $1.43 billion revenue and 18.78 million attendances

30th November 2016 - Historical funding entitlements of major arts companies are ‘cowardly’

25th October 2016 - Review of Australian Opera warns against use of Government funds for ‘commercial activities’

16th March 2016 - Australia first conference to address fundraising in the arts

10th March 2016 - Arts leader Lynch labels Federal Government’s arts policy as a disgrace

15th February 2013 - Creative Partnerships Australia Unveiled, Chief Executive appointed

10th July 2009 - Performing arts funding set to decline?


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