Are British Arts Organizations Pathetic Fundraisers?

Britain's Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey, says yes.

Ed Vaizey Via: DCMS

For the UK’s Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, fund-raising for art organizations is a non-issue. It just needs to get done. Whether or not the structure seeking to raise money is located in London—where 82 percent of art donations and sponsorship go—or elsewhere, is in his view beside the point, reports the BBC.

“I can see absolutely no reason why every arts organization in this country cannot raise philanthropic funds,” he told the House of Commons Culture, Media and sport Committee.

“I think that too many arts organizations think, ‘well, we live in an area where rich people don’t live, so they’re not going to back the arts’. I think that is pathetic, frankly.”

The comment seemed staggeringly out of touch to several leaders of organizations based outside the capital. The chair of National Museum Liverpool quipped: “It’s pathetic for people in London not to appreciate the severity of the problem outside London.”

While London often appears to have fended off the recession, many regions in the country are still struggling with its aftermath. Other key factors easily explain why it might be more difficult for non-London based art organizations to attract patrons. Much less potential donors live outside the capital, and major corporate sponsors tend to be mainly tempted by the prestige of adding their stamp to a London event.

Talking to the BBC, cultural strategist and director of Thinking Practice Mark Robinson deplored Vaizey’s rant. “It’s a shame Ed Vaizey paints this as a kind of ‘can’t be bothered’ attitude, as this does a disservice to lots of people working very hard,” he said.

“We’d be better served by him talking to local authorities about funding for culture, a more urgent risk to most arts organizations.”

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