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Fewer companies supporting the arts

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PJ staff report

The economic slide has led to fewer U.S. companies making philanthropic contributions to the arts, although companies that continued their support are giving a slightly bigger share of their charitable dollars to the arts, a new survey says.

Overall, support for the arts from small and mid-size businesses grew, while arts giving fell from large businesses, says the Triennial Survey of Business Support for the Arts report from The Business Committee for the Arts, a division of Americans for the Arts.

The number of businesses providing charitable support for the arts fell to 28 percent in 2009 from 43 percent in 2006, while the share of 600 businesses surveyed that gave to any charitable cause fell to 52 percent from 70 percent.

The arts received 15 percent of total charitable contributions in 2009, up from 13 percent in 2009.

Thirty-seven percent of businesses support arts groups because of ties to corporate goals, while 67 percent say they picked arts groups that provide opportunities for corporate recognition.

Seventy-four percent of companies say profitability was the most important factor they considered when deciding whether to increase support for the arts or begin supporting the arts, and 63 percent say they would boost their arts giving or begin supporting the arts if their contribution would have a direct impact on their bottom line.

Among business that support the arts and those that do not, 79 percent agree arts giving can benefit them by increasing name recognition, and 74 percent agree arts can benefit them by offering networking opportunities and the potential to develop new business.

From 2006 to 2009, the survey says, the median gift from large businesses fell to $15,500 from $25,000, while gifts from small businesses grew to $700 from $500, and gifts from mid-size businesses grew to $2,250 from $2,000.

Small and mid-size businesses account for 93 percent of arts dollars, while large businesses account for seven percent.

The share of small companies giving in-kind donations to arts groups grew to 60 percent in 2009 from 46 percent in 2006, while it fell to 46 percent of large companies from 57 percent, and it stayed relatively flat, at 57 percent, for the mid-size companies.

“It is remarkable that so many companies maintained such strong support for the arts during the turbulent economic climate experience over the past few years,” Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, says in statement.

“Investing in the arts not only improves community quality of life, but also helps attract and retain a skilled workforce and build new markets,” he says. “In addition, arts giving builds successful, lasting partnerships with the business community.”

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