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Private Funding of Culture

January 11, 200711 January 2007

Volunteers & donors / Nonprofit sector information

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This Montreal report on business support for culture, based on interviews with representatives of 50 companies and an online survey completed by 210 business people, finds that the primary motivations for business sponsorships include enhancing the company’s image and reputation, contributing to the quality of life in the community, and contributing to the economic vitality of the community. For business donations, culture’s contribution to the quality of life was the main motivation.

The report indicates that “culture has become a fundamental component of Montreal’s identity; a factor in attracting talent; a major component of quality of life; [and] a sector whose international successes can inspire all the players in the metropolitan economy.”

In the interviews with business representatives, the most commonly mentioned recipients of business support were theatres, classical music organizations, museums and dance organizations. The interviews also revealed that almost one-half of the businesses received 100 or more funding requests per year.

The survey found that business decisions to support cultural organizations are frequently driven by an individual with an affinity for culture, often someone who developed a love for the arts through their home or school life. The report notes that personal contacts are also important for cultural organizations wishing to increase their support from businesses.

Obstacles to enhancing business support include the perception that culture is not a priority among the general population and the perception that many artists are too centered on their own goals to properly portray the benefits of cultural support to businesses. The survey also found that very few companies are aware of provincial tax breaks for cultural support.

The report proposes a four-pronged action plan to increase business support for culture: 1) enhancing communication between businesses and cultural organizations; 2) highlighting the strategic advantages to companies of cultural support; 3) encouraging companies to use the means at their disposal to back culture; and 4) enhancing the business acumen and tools available to cultural organizations.

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