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Corporate arts support dips

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While American businesses gave a hefty $3.16 billion to arts organizations last year, that’s a drop of 5 percent from 2003, a new study says.

Overall, the number of companies donating to the arts grew 6 percent from 2003 to 2006, but that gain was offset by a drop in the share of small businesses that contributed, says the report by the Business Committee for the Arts.

That drop to 29 percent in 2006 from 34 percent in 2003 is significant, given that small businesses, defined as those with less than $1 million in revenues, account for slightly more than have of all arts giving.

Support from mid-sized businesses declined as well, both in gift size and the share of companies contributing.

The median gift from those companies, which have revenues from $1 million to $49.9 million, fell to $2,000 from $2,600, the report says, while the share of companies who gave fell to 42 percent last year from 46 percent in 2003.

However, the median donation from large companies, those with revenues of $50 million or more, jumped to $25,000 in 2006 from $15,800 in 2003, while the share of businesses who gave remained steady.

“While the slight decline raises concern, it was not unexpected given the changes that have occurred during the past few years,” Judith A. Jedlicka, president of the Business Committee for the Arts, says in a statement. “Philanthropic priorities have changed considerably and competition for business support has increased substantially.”

The Committee, in partnership with the Arts & Business Council of Americans, has convened a working group to develop a national plan to stem the decline in corporate support.

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