Should British orchestras take on a new funding model?

Posted on: December 14, 2010

In Monday’s (12/13) London Times, Callum Thomson writes, “A wealthy and well-dressed audience is absorbed by an impressive display of virtuosity as the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra [SPCO] performs Schumann and C. P. E. Bach. But then the harpsichordist leaves the orchestra. He bounds downstage clutching a microphone. He introduces himself to the audience, then whips out a contribution envelope from the concert programme and asks the audience to do the same. …UK audiences might shortly face a similar shock. Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, has long admired the American style of arts funding. In Opposition he said: ‘The one thing I could do as Culture Secretary that would make a real difference to the arts … would be to help foster an American-style culture of philanthropy.’ On Wednesday he moved closer to his goal, promising government support for cultural organisations that persuade people to give. … Russell Jones, the former director of the Association of British Orchestras and now with the League of American Orchestras, believes that people in the UK need more of a push to support the arts. ‘Adopting the US model overnight would not automatically lead to a culture of giving,’ he says. ‘The first thing to do is encourage people to give. That starts with government and, most importantly, high-profile individuals.’ ” A full version of the article is available at the link above, but a subscription is required.

Posted December 14, 2010