I had the car radio on when I went shopping and when I set off for the return journey there was someone talking about philanthropy and the theatre. He was a giver who looked around for good things that he could support. What surprised me was then he said that for the past 30 years theatres had had it easy. They had been able to use government i.e. taxpayer’s money to help them keep going.
Philanthropy and the arts
He went a bit further and said that it was time that things changed. His prescription was that their needed to be more philanthropists stepping forwards to support the arts. This would take a shift in attitude in the theatres as they would have to do more to persuade people to make financial contributions. They would only be able to do this by developing good quality yet value for money projects that people would be willing to fund.
Before the government stepped in and took the lead in funding the arts, many artists and arts projects had rich patrons. People like Shakespeare would not have survived without rich patrons. Rich people supported groups of musicians, artists sculpters etc. The bought the pictures had musicians play at their homes etc etc.
Why not government?
Of course some will see this as a step backwards away from the idea of everyone enjoying the creative arts. That argument does have some merit but there is an even bigger argument that taxpayers are less able to fund these sorts of activities. There is a good argument for reducing the amount of money is spending. Well if ordinary mortals reach a point where they can no longer borrow money surely the same is true for a government. It may take longer for the need to stop to be recognised but no one can keep on borrowing and churning over loans in the way successive British governments have during the 20th and now 21st centuries.
Why is this refreshing thinking?
I had no idea who this man was but I did pick up that he had made his money investing in property. Here was someone who knew how to make choices and profit from taking calculated risks. He was then using the money he had made not just to provide his family with a good life but also to enrich the lives of others by funding arts projects. To me here was someone who had money but also recognised that they could use it to benefit others.
This interview supported my premise that we need more philantrophists to step in and pick up the slack where government funding is reducing. Except that I come at this issue from another angle. If church based projects need funding then they need to develop a long term strategy of helping people make mroe moeny so that they have more money to give.
My problem is that although this sounds simple it is harder than you might think. Talking about making money in the church goes against the cultural norms. Somehow making money is one of those unmentionable subjects within the church. My question is how can even God himself bring money into the church if people are too scared to go out there and make money!