Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Silver Stake Through The Lie That American Corporations Were The New Medicis Which Would Bring Enlightenment To American Life and Culture?

"When the Altria Group announced in the fall that it was planning to spin off its Kraft Foods division, Wall Street cheered. But among cultural institutions, the response was considerably less upbeat: as part of the restructuring, Altria, formerly Philip Morris, is phasing out its significant support for the arts, which has funneled $210 million to cultural groups over the last four decades.

“It’s the end of an era,” said Sharon Gersten Luckman, the executive director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. “Altria and Philip Morris supported dance and Ailey for over 25 years. They were at the forefront. There wouldn’t be an Ailey if it weren’t for them.”

Altria’s decision is just part of the changing landscape of corporate financing of the arts. Over the last decade, the portion of corporate philanthropy dedicated to the arts has dropped by more than half, according to the Giving USA Foundation, an educational and research program of the American Association of Fundraising Counsel. In 2004, the most recent year for which figures are available, support for the arts was 4 percent of total corporate philanthropy, compared with 9.5 percent in 1994 — part of a general shift in giving toward health and social services.

When companies do support culture, they are increasingly paying for it out of their marketing budgets, which means strings are attached to the funds: from how a corporation’s name will appear in promotional materials, to what parties it can give during an exhibition, to the number of free or discounted tickets available to its employees.

“Corporations are not Medicis; they never have been, they’re not supposed to be,” said Nancy Perkins, a senior vice president at Payne, Forrester & Associates, fund-raising consultants. “They’re not in business to be philanthropic.”" ...

Robin Pogrebin "Arts Organizations Adjust to Decline in Funding" New York Times February 21, 2007

Carolee Schneemann, Up to and Incliding, 1973. Performance Art. American.

American art museums -- from coast to coast and including the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. -- this winter [2007] are celebrating "advanced art" including formerly NEA-eligible "Performance Art". Many of these contemporary art museum "advanced art" exhibitions continue to be funded by major American corporations, foundations, and government agencies.

Image credit: The Art History Imagebase: From Early Renaissance Europe to Late 20th Century America. With thanks.


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