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Will private philanthropy save the arts in Australia? Survey reveals extraordinary growth

The Australian Major Performing Arts Group has today released the results of its annual philanthropy survey, showing that income from donations, corporate sponsorship, and fundraising to our major performing arts companies grew by 15.2 per cent in 2016.

The survey showed revenue from these private streams grew by $12.6 million to a total of $95.7 million from 2015 to 16. It reveals a huge increase in philanthropy and corporate sponsorship over the last 15 years, more than tripling from its 2001 figure of $30.3 million.

AMPAG Executive Director Bethwyn Serow said: “The growth revealed by this year’s survey represents the largest percentage increase since 2011. This result is a clear indication of the extent to which both the corporate sector and individual donors continue to value their engagement with the performing arts.”

For the 28 major performing arts companies that are part of AMPAG, private sector support made up 17% of their total income over 2016, with 42% coming from performance income and 28% from both state and federal government grants.

This significant increase comes as arts funding has stagnated in most states across Australia, and companies are looking to alternative sources of support.

However, the survey has just AMPAG companies as its focus, and doesn’t take into account the situation as experienced by the small-to-medium performing arts sector, which has been hit hardest by recent federal funding disruptions.

Most AMPAG companies are able to devote significant resources to fundraising and securing corporate sponsorship (in fact, the report reveals there were 54.2 FTE employed to raise sponsorship income and 75.3 FTE to raise donation income across the 28 companies in 2016). But small-to-medium companies generally operate with bare-bones staffing and can struggle to make the necessary in-roads to find significant private revenue.

Corporate sponsorship only increased marginally from 2015 to 16, up $0.9 million to $37.1 million, but donations income increased significantly, up $10.3 million to $54.5 million.

Victorian and NSW companies both increased their private sector earnings by more than 20% in 2016, while Queensland was the only state to report an overall decline, of 2.6%.

Opera was the art form which experienced the biggest boost, growing its private sector earnings by 38% from 2015 to 16, with the vast majority of that increase coming from donations to Opera Australia.

2 responses to “Will private philanthropy save the arts in Australia? Survey reveals extraordinary growth

  1. With inflation, the trend since 2001 is more like doubling than tripling – as $30m in 2001 is roughly $44m in 2016’s money. But it’s still impressive growth for the AMPAG companies. It would be interesting to know the trend in net revenue (i.e. exclusive of staff and other costs to generate and service donors and sponsors), as the genuine return to companies for all the effort.

    1. Hi Matt, AMPAG hasn’t provided exact figures, but there’s this passage in the survey report:

      Even though major performing arts companies are employing more people to raise donation
      income—75.3 full-time equivalent (FTE) people / up 6.1 FTE on 2015 levels—the additional income
      raised is much greater than the added cost. Proportionally the increase in costs is lower than the
      increase in the total value of donations received.


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