Business Support for the Arts Dropped From 2006 to 2009, Survey Finds

While the economic downturn has resulted in fewer companies making philanthropic contributions to the arts, those companies that have continued their support actually gave a slightly greater share of their charitable dollars, a new survey from the Business Committee for the Arts finds.

The BCA Triennial Survey of Business Support to the Arts (executive summary, 7 pages, PDF) found that between 2006 and 2009 the number of businesses that provided charitable support for the arts fell from 43 percent to 28 percent, while the number that gave to any charitable cause dropped from 70 percent to 52 percent. The survey also found that total contributions to the arts increased from 13 percent to 15 percent, and that small and mid-size businesses, which provide 93 percent of all corporate arts giving, increased their contributions to the arts over the 2006-09 period, while support from large businesses declined over the period.

Of the six hundred small, mid-size, and large U.S. companies that responded to the survey, 74 percent cited profitability as the most important factor they considered when deciding whether to increase their support for the arts, 67 percent supported arts organizations that provide opportunities for corporate recognition, and 37 percent said they supported specific arts organizations because such support aligned with corporate goals. The survey also found that 63 percent of respondents would boost their giving to the arts if the contributions had a direct impact on their bottom line, while 74 percent said that arts giving could provide networking opportunities and contribute to the development of new business.

"It is remarkable that so many companies maintained such strong support for the arts during the turbulent economic climate experienced over the past few years," said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, BCA's parent organization. "Investing in the arts not only improves community quality of life, but also helps attract and retain a skilled workforce and build new markets. In addition, arts giving builds successful, lasting partnerships with the business community."