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Learning outcomes

By the end of this week you will be able to:

– Define philanthropy in the context of cultural and creative industries

– Summarize perspectives on motivations for philanthropy in cultural and creative industries

– Analyze philanthropy and its risks in contemporary and historical contexts

This week

Definitions of philanthropy

Motivations for philanthropy

Histories of philanthropy

Case study: Henry Tate and the Tate Galleries

Thinking forward – contemporary philanthropy

Part one: definitions

Defining philanthropy

Philanthropy is defined as “private giving of time and resources for public purposes” (Barman 2017, p.272).

So let’s unpack this:

Private – different from mandatory giving in the public sector (eg through taxation).

Differs from market activity (eg buying and selling) – there is no contractual exchange.

Public – not giving to specific individuals, such as family.

Philanthropy differs from charity as it does not have to be orientated towards the poor or ‘needy’ in society.

Philanthropy can encompass donations from individuals, corporations and foundations.

Why do people give? (Barman, 2017)

Scholars from different academic backgrounds have created theories for why people engage in philanthropy:

Altruism – consideration for others’ needs.

Emotional/ prestige based, a ‘warm glow’ or recognition from peers.

Reciprocity – the gift as a social act, to form social relationships within a collective (namely, society).

Why the wealthy give

Philanthropy does not always mean monetary donations – it can also encompass volunteer time.

Many elites donate their time to volunteer positions on trustee boards – this can span from upper class individuals to financial elites.

Elites continue to be central to founding, sustaining and overseeing arts institutions in many cities.

Arts organisations are actually run by professional managers (who are employed) however the board of trustees sets real parameters about how CCIs can be run.

There is a culture around elite philanthropy that helps these individuals to develop and maintain their own class status.

Benefits of philanthropic giving (beth breeze)

With major gifts from individual donors, there is often flexibility in what the CCI can use the money for.

On the other hand, government and corporate sponsorship are very specific about what money must be used for.

Philanthropy can often be used for core activities such as rent, utilities and salaries.

If you were going to make a philanthropic gift – what cultural and creative organization would you donate to, what would you give and why?

What factors are important for you in your decision?

Talk to your partner (5 minutes)

Upload your answers to Google Docs using this link

Part two: histories of art philanthropy

Before industrialization (prior to the 19th century)

Art collection was the prevue of royalty, nobility and the clergy.

These nobles bought mainly pictures with historic or religious subjects.

The paintings they purchased were of ‘grand dimensions’ (they were huge!).

They commissioned many works of art (often of themselves, their families).

They would fit only palaces, churches or Government buildings.

The 19th century

This was a time of huge industrial growth in the UK.

A number of ‘new’ wealthy entrepreneurs started earning money from coal, steel, cotton and other investments – the bourgeoise.

These new factory owning classes had already bought fancy clothes and houses.

They were now anxious to spend money on other valuable items, and quickly.

For these reasons, many became art collectors.

The new (19th century) art collectors

These new art collectors were motivated by self interest.

They were new members of the bourgeoise and felt insecure in their class position.

They felt looked down on by aristocracy.

They had economic power, but did not have cultural power.

They used their new art collections to show they had good taste, that they belonged in high society.

They used their collections to create a distinctive identity.

Collection as conspicuous consumption

Conspicuous consumption – buying luxuries to establish prestige and signpost to ones’ social class.

A symbol of prosperity, and an instrument to pursue status.

There is also a social element to conspicuous consumption – circles of art lovers and art collectors existed together in high society.

The new art collectors changed art

They didn’t want big pictures – more ‘domestic’ sizes and subjects.

They didn’t want battles or historical heroes, rather they wanted to see themselves and their own lives.

This sparked changes in how art was marketed – away from private salons, to public exhibitions.

This time also gave birth to the art critic – who made sense of new art movements and promoted certain works.

These new bourgeoise art collectors supported some of the most famous modern European artists

(Gertrude and Leo Stein)


(Sergei Schukin)

Van Gogh

(Cornelis Hoogendijk)

The role of philanthropy

These art collectors were patrons – people who deliberately sponsor the creation, production, preservation and dissemination of art.

Patrons treat artists as ‘investments’ – they funded less well known artists in the hope that they would break through later.

The focus on the ‘supply side’ – the ‘start up costs’

This is Gertrude Stein, an American writer who supported Picasso and other artists during her time in Paris in the early 1900’s (the painting of her is by Picasso)

Getrude stein

Stein was the daughter of a wealthy businessman and a novelist, poet and playwrite.

Stein held weekly salons in her Paris apartment populated by European and American artists and writers.

Stein’s early patronage and friendship was critical to Picasso’s success. He painted this portrait of her between 1905 and 1906 at the end of his so-called “Rose Period.”

Points for reflection

Philanthropy relies on wealth inequalities- the ongoing inequality between rich and poor.

Trends in society shape cultures of philanthropy.

In turn, cultures of philanthropy shape many forms of culture.

Should the richest people in society be responsible for funding the arts and shaping cultural production?

5 mins Break

Part three: henry tate and the tate galleries

Art philanthropy: the tate

Henry tate

Henry Tate was born in 1819, and made his fortune as a sugar refiner.

In 1888 he wanted to bequeath 65 notable paintings to The National Gallery including John Everett Millais’ Ophelia.

They did not have room for these paintings so the donation was turned down by trustees.

Tate then spearheaded a campaign to create a new gallery dedicated to British art, and donated £80,000 himself.

Tate Britain

The Tate Britain opened in 1897 in Milbank, London.

Henry Tate’s original bequest of works and works from the National Gallery formed the founding collection.

The collections have been extended through other forms of philanthropy, for example from Sir Joseph Joel Duveen (who made his fortune selling porcelain) and his son Lord Joseph Duveen.

Colonial legacies

In recent times, many stakeholders in cultural sectors have been grappling with some of the histories of the philanthropists that founded CCIs.

For example, Henry Tate acquired his fortune as a sugar refiner – as he co-founded the company ‘Tate and Lyle’.

The Tate Galleries have worked with Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slave-ownership at University College London to reflect on the relationship between Henry Tate and slavery.

Henry Tate was 14 when the Act for abolition of slavery in 1933. It is important to note that he personally did not own slaves.

Tate and the slave trade


The sugar industry was constructed on a foundation of slavery. Henry Tate’s business was directly historically connected to slave grown sugar.

Many of Tate’s collections include items given or associated with slave owners or people whose wealth came from slavery.

In a 2019 written statement, the Tate Galleries have said:

“While it is important to emphasize that Henry Tate was not a slave-owner or slave-trader, it is therefore not possible to separate the Tate galleries from the history of colonial slavery from which in part they derive their existence”

Many cultural and creative industries have invested in events and exhibitions that grapple with these uncomfortable legacies

One example is the 2015 exhibition Artist and Empire – Facing Britain’s Imperial Past

Artist & empire

Points for reflection

Arts organizations are grappling with the troubled histories of the philanthropists who have historically contributed to them.

CCIs have addressed these legacies in numerous ways, including through events, exhibitions, and in some instances, renaming.

However, these events and exhibitions are lucrative endeavors for these CCIS, and they are often critiqued for lacking deep critical engagement with topics such as colonialism or empire.

For example, Catherine Hahn discussed the lack of more brutal or distressing imagery in the Tate’s Artist and Empire exhibition stating:

“The exhibition’s failure to give vision to empire, in terms of trauma and loss, left a vacuum at the heart of its study, it being impossible to tell a tale of empire that seeks to face the past without laying bare its negative impact” (2017, p.20).

Part four: membership and philanthropy

Memberships schemes

Membership to arts organizations arose in the 1960s, in part due to the growth of the arts.

Arts membership could be seen as a product, bought for a fee.

For example, many membership schemes offer free entry to CCIs, priority booking, and discounts in shops and cafes.

However, members offer a key source of funding for CCIs, and also stimulates involvement through volunteering.

Tate membership

Founded in 1957

Now over 100,000 members.

Tate Members pay an annual subscription fee and can visit exhibitions as many times as they wish.

tate membership and involvement

Aliz Slater and Kate Armstrong (2010) interviewed 59 Tate Britain and Tate Modern members to find out why they were members using the involvement construct.

Examining membership through the marketing concept of ‘involvement’

Rothschild (1984) defines involvement as “an unobservable state of motivation, arousal or interest, evoked by a particular stimulus or situation and has drive properties”.

Involvement centers around motivation.

It is about values, self-concept and aims.

In its basic elements, involvement can vary from ‘high to low’.

Involvement can be stimulated by promotions and advertising, in addition to other forms of marketing.

Three variables of involvement (Houston and Rothschild, 1978)

Personal: the inherent interests, values or needs that motivate one towards the object.

Physical: the characteristics of the object that cause differentiation and increase interest.

Situational: something that temporarily increases relevance or interest toward the object.

They found that membership is motivated by:

Centrality and pleasure: have histories of visiting the Tate, they see art as a hobby or interest.

Desire to learn: they want to learn more about art, they see the Tate as accessible and often feel themselves to be ‘art novices’

Escapism: come to relax, some compared this to Church as a spiritual place for them.

A sense of belonging and prestige: feel part of a community, a club, and can open up spaces for connecting, makes them feel cultured and knowledgeable.

Physical: the architecture and atmosphere

Points to consider

Many Tate members belong to the Tate because of a ‘sense of belonging’ and prestige.

Tate members feel they are part of an ‘exclusive club’

These are similar motivations that we discussed earlier, in relation to the 19th century art collectors.

The Tate produces a range of distinctive membership cards – can these be viewed as a form of conspicuous consumption?

Eight mechanisms that drive charitable giving (breeze)

Mechanisims Examples in relation to CCI
Awareness of need CCIs are less obvious ‘charities’ than emergency ones – they must take every opportunity to explain their importance and why they are seeking funds.
Solicitation CCIs need to ‘make the ask’ – eg through making professional fundraising a priority
Cost/ Benefits Tax breaks/ benefits to the giver (eg member room)
Altruism Articulating clearly who will benefit.
Reputation Recognizing and celebrating donors
Psychological rewards Celebrating the joy of giving and feeling good about decisions to donate
Values Making sure people believe in the values of CCIs and organisations
Efficacy Demonstrating useful outcomes and positive impacts

Concluding thoughts

Philanthropy is private giving for public purposes.

This makes it different from ‘charity’ in various ways – it is bigger, not focused on the poor

In many cases, philanthropy is a social/cultural activity that is participated in by elites.

As Government funding for arts has decreased, many CCIs are more reliant on private giving.

This can involve endowments, gifts, volunteer time through trustees.

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