Mitchell Review into Private Sector Support for the Arts

Harold Mitchell, former chairman of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Picture: Bruce Magilton. Source: Herald Sun

The Mitchell review of private sector support for the arts was released in October 2011 by Simon Crean, who was the then Minister for the Arts.

It was most interesting for me to note a recommendation for a merger of artsupport Australia with the Australia Cultural Fund run by AbaF (now known as Creative Partnerships Australia).

Originally (way back in 2003) these two services were run as a joint pilot of both the Australia Council and AbaF, but then split and no longer work side by side. Having them together makes a lot of sense, as artsupport Australia spent much of its time courting potential supporters of the arts and high net worth individuals who set up their own private ancillary funds and who love the arts – to introduce them to organisations who needed their help. The Australia Cultural Fund works much more closely with individual artists and unincorporated groups of artists who are seeking support.

At the moment Private Ancillary Funds (which the Australian Tax Office classes as Deductible Gift Recipients 2) can only give to eligible entities which must be DGR 1. This restricts them from supporting individuals directly. If the Australia Cultural Fund and artsupport Australia merged (as they eventually did in 2012), the Australia Cultural Fund would need to become its own legal entity (it currently operates as the DGR fund for AbaF), and would also need to meet all the eligibility requirements for Private Ancillary Funds to be able to donate to it. (ie DGR 1 and tax charitable concession status). This then leads us to the whole “but for its relationship to government” question – but I digress.

The second thing I was very pleased to see in the Mitchell report was a recommendation to look into ways of supporting crowdfunding. As this is a means of raising funds which is certainly gathering support and enthusiasm amongst artists, it was great to see this recognised at a policy level as an area deserving of thought and development.

While all policy recommendations take time (too too much time I hear you all saying), this is a welcome document and I look forward hopefully to seeing some of it being implemented.

What are your views on the report? Is there too much consultation and not enough action with government reviews? Do these examinations of the current state of affairs really make a difference to your work, your fundraising and your capacity to grow and develop?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.


About ozphilanthropy

#Philanthropy. #arts Posts by Sharon Nathani, PhD candidate at the Centre for Social Impact, Swinburne focussing on philanthropic funders of the arts. Sharon's study is supported through an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship.
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2 Responses to Mitchell Review into Private Sector Support for the Arts

  1. johnofoz says:

    If maintaining flexibility to pass funds to individual artists and unincorporated groups is a problem should ACF/Artsupport merge, perhaps a solution would be to bring the two programs under the umbrella of one organisation, yet leave them as separate legal entities. Thus the best of both worlds could be maintained while the corporate umbrella organisation could continue, as AbaF does (or is supposed) to do, courting business and high net worth individuals, as well as educating both business and arts practitioners about the practices and benefits of philanthropy.
    While the current review of the Australia Council may change its structure from the current, somewhat problematic, silo approach, its role as distributor of government monies, advocacy and research does not automatically make it the ideal organisation to work with business and Private Ancillary Funds and their trustees.

    • Hi John, bringing the two together under one umbrella organisation is a good idea – they do fit together well. But there is a difficulty with this in that the Australia Cultural Fund is not technically an incorporated legal entity in its own right. It currently operates as the deductible gift recipient fund for AbaF (see the ABN lookup page for its status). There would need to be some serious legal tinkering to move it to another organisation.

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