Private sector support for the performing arts grows to record levels

AAR Australian Money Notes 630Revenue from donations, corporate sponsorship and fundraising events in Australia’s major performing arts sector grew by 15.2 per cent in 2016, increasing by $12.6 million to a total of $95.7 million.

Releasing its latest annual survey of fundraising by the major companies, 2017 AMPAG Tracking changes in corporate sponsorship and donations, Bethwyn Serow, Executive Director of the Australian Major Performing Arts Group (AMPAG), today congratulated the sector for achieving such a positive result in challenging times.

“The growth revealed by this year’s survey represents the largest percentage increase since 2011,” said Ms Serow. “This result is a clear indication of the extent to which both the corporate sector and individual donors continue to value their engagement with the performing arts.”

Overall, private sector support for the major performing arts (MPA) companies contributed 17 per cent of their total income in 2016, with 42 per cent coming from performance income, 28 percent from government grants for core funding (federal and state), 3 per cent from grants for specific projects/initiatives and 10 per cent from other sources.

The largest increase was in donations income, which rose $10.3 million or 23.4 per cent, to $53.5 million in 2016, and now contributes 57 per cent of total private sector support, up from 54 per cent in 2015. This continues a trend that saw donations overtake corporate sponsorship in 2010 as the major source of private sector income for the MPA companies.

Corporate sponsorships grew by just $0.9 million to $37.1 million in 2016, and income from fundraising events by $1.4 million to $4.1 million – a significant increase of 51.4 per cent on 2015. The revenue generated from fundraising is affected by the number of companies using this as a method to raise funds. In 2001, only four companies reported earning income from this source compared to 21 companies in 2016.

“What is particularly pleasing about the growth in income from donations is that, for at least the past five years, it has been driven more by an increase in the number of donors than the size of individual donations,” said Ms Serow. “2016 saw 43,485 individual donations, up 7,195 (19.8 per cent) on 2015. This continued broadening in the donor base demonstrates how engaged audiences are with the work of these companies.”

However, Ms Serow cautioned that the results were not uniform across all companies. “For individual companies, donations income can vary significantly each year as a result of targeted fundraising campaigns or substantial one-off donations and bequests,” said Ms Serow. “In 2016, eight of the 28 MPA companies reported increases in donations income greater than 20 per cent, but eight companies reported earning less from this source compared to 2015.”

“Private sector support cannot be taken for granted in an increasingly competitive environment, and the smaller and mid-sized companies in particular are vulnerable to year-on-year fluctuations. This volatility underlines the importance of maintaining a strong core of government support to ensure Australia’s companies can remain stable and sustainable as well as artistically vibrant.”

AMPAG Chair John Irving reinforced the unique contribution the private sector makes to the vitality of the performing arts in Australia. “It’s a two-way relationship,” he said. “Private sector support not only contributes to the companies’ ability to innovate, inspire and deliver world-class performances. It’s a partnership that also helps connect the companies themselves to their audiences and the Australian community more broadly.”

The 2017 AMPAG Tracking changes in corporate sponsorship and donations report was prepared in partnership with Creative Partnerships Australia. For more information, visit: for details.