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Reader response - What future for arts funding?

I READ with interest your report (WA Business News, November 30) on the WA Business Arts Partnership Awards. This state certainly has been a leader in developing stronger ties between the business and arts communities.   I would, however, caution about using the figures from the awards and endorsements as an accurate measure of the activity in the business arts area over the last year.  Not all cultural and business organisations seek endorsement and, as the Australia Business Arts Foundation (AbaF) has found, there is a need for more rigorous research using the annual reports and acquittals of cultural organisations to capture the true trends in support.  AbaF has aggregated figures from 26 of the publicly funded cultural organisations in WA to show that, in 2005, there was an income of nearly $10 million from the private sector as opposed to the $8.5 million shown by the endorsements.  The indicators for 2006 also show a steady increase in the value of business arts partnerships and a significant increase in private giving to the cultural sector; all of which points to a greater understanding of corporate social responsibility among the business sector and private individuals. But a significant threat to the future health of business arts partnerships is the growth of private equity raids on Australian businesses.  Private equity takeovers are generally driven on quick return and therefore the strategic investment in community partnerships, be they arts, sport or welfare, is seen as superfluous to the short-term needs of the offshore shareholders.  Therein lies the challenge – can we future proof these sectors against such outcomes? Henry Boston - manager WA, Australia Business Arts Foundation

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