THE state government and construction group Mirvac have jointly committed $300,000 to a new arts funding mechanism to match first-time business partnerships between small-to-medium enterprises and small-to-medium arts organisations dollar for dollar. The contributions, $50,000 a year from each party over three years, will be administrated by the Australia Business Arts Foundations which brought the idea to the state. Payments to arts groups will be capped at $10,000 a year, for up to three years. The fund, launched this week by Premier Alan Carpenter, will be welcomed by the arts community which has had to turn more often to the business community as the degree of government underwriting of the sector has waned. Grants from the fund can be made when an SME forms a partnership for the first time with an arts organisation or an individual artist to an agreed value. The government then matches the business partner's cash contribution to a maximum of $10,000 a year for up to three years. According to a new AbaF survey of private sector support for the arts, Australia's thriving economy has seen total private sector support of recurrently funded arts and cultural organisations top $171 million. Throughout April this year, AbaF surveyed more than 700 not-forprofit arts organisations in Australia to measure the amount of sponsorship and donations they received from the private sector. The results showed that sponsorship and donations were almost evenly split, with the sponsorships totalling $84.4 million, or 49 per cent, and the donations totalling $86.7 million, or 51 per cent. "Our figures confirm that sponsorship for the arts has doubled since 2000- 01," the report said. AbaF WA manager Henry Boston said business arts partnerships were "good for the arts, good for business and good for the whole community".