29/10/2013 - 15:27

Patronage push for arts funds

29/10/2013 - 15:27

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While acknowledging the importance of state funding arts bodies are seeking ways to reduce their dependency on the public purse.

MIXING IT UP: Gavin Buckley says a healthy mix of income streams is the key to sustainability. Photo: Attila Csaszar

The state’s peak support body for visual artists has launched a new fundraising model aimed at diversifying its income streams and increasing its engagement with the community.

Artsource receives core funding from the state government, but relies on project grants and service fees for the majority of its income.

CEO Gavin Buckley believes the newly introduced ‘patrons’ program will create a pathway for more individuals to become involved in the organisation.

“The reason I wanted to look in particular at patrons is because supporting the arts doesn’t just have to be the preserve of very wealthy people,” Mr Buckley told Business News.

“The aim is to have that mixed economy where you’ve got the right balance of public money, earned money and private money.”

Mr Buckley said while the patrons program enabled individuals to give small donations on a monthly basis, it also provided an opportunity for them to ‘partner’ on a personal level as a valued member of the Artsource team.

Artsource patrons can contribute for just $30 per month, while the young patrons program, for those aged 18 to 35, can join from $20/month.

Mr Buckley said government funding in 2012 provided 18 per cent of Artsource’s total income, which meant the public’s financial contribution was vital for it to fulfil its role of supporting its more than 1,000 members.

Despite state funds comprising a small proportion of its entire earnings, however, Mr Buckley said government support was crucial to the organisation’s sustainability.

Black Swan State Theatre Company general manager Shane Colquhoun is of a similar view. He believes a certain level of government funding will always be necessary for not-for-profit art organisations to operate.

“There is overall community support from a range of surveys over many years for government involvement in supporting professional arts activities because of the benefits in terms of building a more vibrant Perth,” Mr Colquhoun told Business News.

“In terms of access for the community to a high level of product, there is a certain reliance on government funding; otherwise our tickets instead of being $69 would need to be $269.”

Four years ago, 59 per cent of Black Swan’s income came from government funding, whereas in 2012 the figure was 36 per cent.

Mr Colquhoun said about 40 per cent of Black Swan’s earnings were currently derived from box office sales, which had increased substantially since the company moved into the State Theatre Centre of WA.

“It was an opportunity in 2011 when we moved in (to the State Theatre Centre) as the resident company to build our product and build our audience,” he said.

“It’s been a concerted effort to build our audience and build our income in order to reduce our reliance on core government funding.”

WA’s leading theatre company makes up the remainder of its income via donations and sponsors, such as newcomers for its 2014 season Kailis Australian Pearls and Kitchen Headquarters, and longstanding partner Rio Tinto.

Additionally, in 2011 mining magnate Andrew Forrest and his wife, Nicola, donated $1.2 million worth of shares in Fortescue Metals Group to Black Swan. 

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