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March 2015

Why should philanthropists fund the arts?

Volume 20 , Number 1

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March 2015

Why should philanthropists fund the arts?

Volume 20 , Number 1

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Should philanthropists and foundations fund artists directly to create the art they want to make? Should they fund theatres and galleries to make art more available to more people? Should they fund only work that explicitly promotes social change? Or should they fund the arts ‘in their own right’ – whatever that means? These are the questions that run through all the articles and interviews in the March issue of Alliance. Guest editors are Hania Aswad of the Naseej Foundation and Fiona Ellis of Millfield House Foundation.

The special feature includes Katherine Watson on why we should support art when there are so many critical global challenges; Michelle Coffey on the difficulties of assessing the impact of arts funding; and Will Miller on the Wallace Foundation’s new $40 million initiative to support performing arts organizations across the US. Other articles look at how the Dalit Foundation, the African Women’s Development Fund, Puntos de Encuentro in Nicaragua, and development organization Hivos support art to further their mission, while John Nickson canvasses the views of leading philanthropists and arts leaders in the UK and a former Secretary of State for Culture.

The March issue of Alliance also includes a look at what happens next after the European Commission’s rejection of the European Foundation Statute; two articles on philanthropy and the post-2015 agenda – a topic we will be covering throughout the year; and interviews with Ridgway White, new president of the Mott Foundation, and Firoz Ladak of Edmond de Rothschild Foundations. Timothy Ogden asks if Detroit’s Grand Bargain represents a new kind of philanthropy, while Diana van Maasdijk wonders what the world would look like if we had more women philanthropists.

Guest Editors' Article

Why do dictators lock up the poets first?

2 March 2015
Fiona Ellis and Hania Aswad

Why should philanthropists fund the arts? Some have argued that as art is of lesser importance than basics like food, shelter, health and so forth, there is no justification for funding art until world hunger is solved. How then can one justify spending on so-called high arts? Can the arts be seen as effective tools to bring about personal and social change? Is art transformative? Our subject for this Alliance special feature is philanthropy’s attitudes …

 
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Editorial

Art and social justice: which is the higher good?

It’s an old chestnut: should we fund art ‘for its own sake’ or to further some other end? Can we justify philanthropic funding for the arts when there are so many more urgent things to fund? A former director of India Foundation for the Arts is reputed to have said, ‘In India, there are 99 other things to fund before the arts.’ The title of the special feature, ‘Why should philanthropists fund the arts?’ suggests that justification is needed. As more than one of our contributors have mentioned, the impetus for the special feature came from the Working Group on …

Special feature

Letters

Who defines ‘transformation’?

Max Niedzwiecki For Subscribers

Responses to Michele Fugiel Gartner and Daniel Overall, ‘The trouble with transformation creep’ ‘Whether interventions come through the lens of …

Too little focus on systemic change

David Callahan For Subscribers

Responses to Michele Fugiel Gartner and Daniel Overall, ‘The trouble with transformation creep’ ‘Whether interventions come through the lens of …

Change is a messy business

Jenny Hodgson For Subscribers

Responses to Michele Fugiel Gartner and Daniel Overall, ‘The trouble with transformation creep’ ‘Whether interventions come through the lens of …

Further thoughts on the dangers of transparency

Jo Andrews For Subscribers

The debate in Alliance about transparency has been helpful in clarifying my views on this, and, judging from the comments …