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Antony Gormley
Antony Gormley was announced as one of this year’s winners of the world’s richest arts prize. Photograph: Nigel Roddis/Reuters

British business could learn valuable lessons from Japan, which has a tradition of corporate philanthropy that views spending on creativity and the arts as a duty, according to sculptor Antony Gormley.

He was speaking on Tuesday as he was announced as one of this year’s winners of the world’s richest arts prize. He was named as the sculpture laureate of the Praemium Imperiale awards, a Japanese prize in its 25th year, which rewards fields of achievement not covered by the Nobel prize.

The other winners were Francis Ford Coppola for film, Placido Domingo for music, Michelangelo Pistoletto for painting and David Chipperfield (whose recent buildings include Turner Contemporary in Margate and the Hepworth in Wakefield) for architecture.

Gormley said there were a number of foundations in Japan linked to corporations, citing the Inimori Foundation and the Daiwa Foundation as “exemplary institutions”, which saw it as their duty to use some of their profits to support creativity in a wider way. “I think they are really inspirational,” he said.

In Japan, he added, there was an extraordinary number of foundations where there was “an absolute belief in the duty of corporate money to reinvest in a collective future. There are examples in this country but there could be more”.


Mark Brown
The Guardian


Theatre Royal, Newcastle
Theatre Royal (Photo: Mark Pinder/Guardian)

Arts and culture delivers a significant return on relatively small levels of government spending and directly leads to at least £856m of spending by tourists in the UK, according to a new report seeking to analyse the value of the arts to the modern economy.

Analysis by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) shows that the arts budget accounts for less than 0.1% of public spending, yet it makes up 0.4% of the nation’s GDP.

The report is published amid fears that the arts will take another big hit when George Osborne announces his spending review in June.

Maria Miller, the culture secretary, recently called for the economic case to be made for the arts, “to hammer home the value of culture to our economy”. She added: “In an age of austerity, when times are tough and money is tight, our focus must be on culture’s economic impact.”

The report, commissioned in November, helps to do that in unprecedented detail, showing that spending on the arts is far from a drain on public resources.


Mark Brown
The Guardian

Damien Hirst: once a pickler of sharks, now associated with large wads of cash. Photograph: PR

The campaign against arts cuts is gearing up, and the techniques are tried and trusted ones. If you want to get a high-profile message across, sign up some celebrity artists. That accounts for the starry cast, including Damien Hirst, that has joined a campaign against coalition attacks on arts funding.

There is, however, trouble ahead. A poll by the organisers of the Threadneedle prize, which was reported by the BBC, found that two-thirds of its sample “agree with arts funding change”; only 16% of those questioned believed the public should be the main funder of visual art. A fifth felt visual art should get no state funds at all, while 66% said the majority of visual art funding should come from corporate sponsorship and private donations.


Jonathan Jones

Tate has become the focal point of Britain’s love affair with modern art – and all the Tate galleries are free. Photograph: the Guardian

As all public funding for the arts comes under the biggest assault in living memory, it is natural and necessary to assert that museums and galleries are beacons of civilisation, to be protected. Free museum entry is a marvel of British culture. And yet … let’s not close our minds. Otherwise the debates will happen among the coalition’s radical thinkers, and defenders of museums will find themselves sidestepped. To ask one radical question: does not the British love affair with contemporary art totally undermine the culture of public funding for the arts? Damien Hirst is one of the richest artists in history; the most prestigious event in the visual art calendar is the Frieze art fair. None of this has much to do with state subsidies – does it?

The always readable critic Waldemar Januszczak wrote recently in praise of Charles Saatchi. It was Saatchi, not Serota, who created the British modern art boom, he argued. The current reverence for the Tate is, in his eyes, misplaced – actually it was a private collector who launched our addiction to the new.

There is, absolutely, a case to be made that art is a commodity, full stop. Britain’s famous artists believe that more openly than anyone. But the truth is more complicated (surprise).

The art marketplace is in reality a splendid example of a mixed economy. The rise of the Hirst generation depended on constant interaction of private and public enthusiasm. Above all, it depended on the Turner prize, whose authority depended in turn on its being staged by a public museum.


Jonathan Jones

The Apollo Gallery at the Louvre in Paris was renovated with money from Total, the oil company. (Photo: Remy de la Mauviniere/Associated Press)

Last week the shadow culture secretary for Britain’s Conservative Party, Jeremy Hunt, promised to introduce “a U.S.-style culture of philanthropy” if the Tories come to power in the coming election. Speaking before the State of the Arts conference in London, Mr. Hunt foresaw a “golden age” of tax breaks to encourage private donations and help cut back on government spending.

“I do believe in state funding,” he reassured his no doubt partly skeptical audience, “but we are committed to a mixed-economy funding model for the arts.” He added that the party’s shadow chancellor, George Osborne, agreed with him.

And in Paris last month the Pompidou museum was shut down by a strike for more than two weeks, and other museums for several days, because France’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy, also wants to reduce arts support. He has proposed making cuts in the whole state workforce, with its jobs for life and generous pensions, including at cultural institutions like the Louvre, the palace of Versailles and the National Library. The plan is for only one worker to replace every two who retire. The Pompidou Center’s labor union estimates that the museum would lose some 200 jobs in the next decade as a result.

French museums are supposed to raise money if they want more workers. In short, to Americanize the system, as Mr. Hunt is proposing in Britain.


Michael Kimmelman
New York Times

Feeling a little low? Ill even? Today Americans for the Arts announced and released its new National Arts Index, and you can see, the latest number isn’t good:

…I’m glad Americans for the Arts is trying something. It devised the National Arts Index by taking into account 76 “equal-weighted, national-level indicators of arts activity.” And the group says that makes it “one of the largest data sets about the arts industries ever assembled.”


Judith H. Dobrzynski
Real Clear Arts

A lack of money sure can bring out the creative qualities in a person.

This was a recurring mantra at forums for arts organizations and funders at Crain’s Future of New York City: Performing Arts conference Wednesday, which was co-sponsored by Columbia University’s School of the Arts…

“It’s not about writing a check anymore,” said Gayle Jennings-O’Byrne, vice president of the foundation. “We need to change the conversation between funders and fundees…”

The need in the arts community has never been so great, added Kate Levin, the city’s commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs. Endowments are down as much as 25%, she said, while attendance is up 5%.

“We are dealing with a sector whose workforce is shrinking, just when there’s a real appetite for what arts and cultural organizations have to offer” Ms. Levin said.


Lisa Fickenscher and Hilary Potkewitz
Crain’s New York

The paradoxical outcome is that Seattle arts are too big, or at least grew too fast. In my experience working in the arts while running Town Hall, 1998-2006, I came to believe that the key determinant of quality in the arts is the knowledgeability, the passion, and the willingness to take risks, of the audience. Outgrow that natural core audience too much, as Seattle has done with its enormously outsized audiences per capita, and you have a lot of unknowledgeable, fickle folks sitting in those seats and wanting reliable, easily digestible entertainment before heading back out to the suburbs to get to bed by 11. For those audiences, art is not part of life; it’s the occasional big night out, so it better be certifiably “good.”

In such a setting, the programming gets conservative — and Seattle is something of an extreme case in this regard. An organization like the Seattle Symphony has to do lots of pops programs, and always have a name composer or a name soloist in the show. Seattle Opera can rarely afford to do a contemporary work. The Rep, now in a tailspin, has to fill up a large hall of 800 seats for weeks’ running; that greatly reduces its ability to take chances. On the other hand, a smallish, hugely knowledgeable audience for something like On the Boards or the Early Music Guild produces some of the leading work in the country.

Another thing that happens when you put the major arts organizations on steroids is that the mid-sized organizations falter and die. Seattle used to have chamber dance groups, chamber orchestras, contemporary music groups, ethnic theater — now mostly gone. (By contrast, they are flourishing in Portland.) Fully mature artistic capitals have a vibrant mid-sized sector (budgets ranging from $3 to $8 million). That’s where budgets are manageable, audiences are risk-takers, board training takes place, and tickets are affordable. It’s where the next artistic breakthroughs can take place. And the artistic experience is more intimate and enthralling for close-up audiences.

There’s one more mismatch in our rush to the big time. The creative economy, of which Seattle is one of the leaders, attracts a young, experimental, eclectic population — yet we have put nearly all our chips on a very middle class, older, and respectable set of institutions. Think for instance of are few arts venues carved out warehouses, breweries, railroad roundhouses, armories, or massive concrete grain silos, quite common in other cities. Instead, EMP aside, we have quite conventional, even corporate architecture housing our major arts groups. The main venue, Seattle Center, is a suburbanized zone for the arts, blocks away from real urban streets or lively ethnic neighborhoods.


David Brewster