How does the art and culture sector support its activities? A brief overview of funding sources

How does the art and culture sector support its activities? A brief overview of funding sources


The art and culture sector is responsible for enriching the hearts and minds of the population - however, it is often unable to finance its own activities. To deal with this issue, each State has developed its own system to support the arts. Here are some examples of sources of funding for this specific sector.

Supranational support

The EU's various objectives include promoting and protecting cultural heritage and CCIs (Cultural and Creative Industries). The European Commission has introduced a number of initiatives including the Creative Europe Programme 2014-2020. The latter, with a budget of €1.46 billion, aims to support artists, cultural organisations, heritage, fine arts, publishing, cinema and much more. The EU also supports other projects such as the European Capitals of Culture, an annual competition aimed at enhancing Europe's cultural richness and diversity and increasing the sense of belonging to a common European cultural area. In addition, the Commission aims to reduce the gap between Europe's most advanced regions and those that are lagging behind through the allocation of Structural Funds for Culture. In addition, there is UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) which, in its medium-term strategy for 2014-2021, restated the protection, promotion and transmission of heritage as one of its objectives. Over the years, the organization has been able to support the cultural sector through cultural conventions, recommendations, declarations and intergovernmental programmes. In concrete terms, UNESCO funds are allocated to countries in crisis, danger and conflict situations in order to protect and safeguard cultural assets at risk.

State intervention - Italy and France

At the State level, in most Western European countries, the arts sector survives thanks to public subsidies. In Italy, for example, the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism (Mibact) distributes the annual budget among various centers dedicated to tourism, libraries and cultural institutions, museums, archaeology and so on. In many cases the State intervention is insufficient, so in order to deal with these shortcomings, local authorities and municipalities, are now intervening, and they are making a substantial contribution to cultural expenditure. The French State has always supported the arts, paying particular attention to the democratization of culture. For the year 2018, the budget for culture, included in the Projet de loi de finance (financial law), amounted to 10 billion euros. Until the 1980s, the French administration was characterized by a highly centralized structure that was not always able to meet local needs. After several phases of decentralization, the State now cooperates with the regions, departments, municipalities and EPCI (Établissement public de coopération intercommunale). Here, too, the municipalities have taken the initiative of financing local art and cultural projects, museums, schools and theatres. The direct intervention of the central government is complemented by other means such as the provision of benefits to non-profit bodies, tax deductions, and subsidies for private individuals and cultural enterprises.

Anglo-Saxon countries and the contribution of private individuals

By adopting favorable tax regimes for donations to non-profit companies, Anglo-Saxon countries have encouraged private support for culture. For example, Americans have a solid tradition of fundraising that has spread widely among individuals, foundations and companies. As early as 1993, private support accounted for 23.5% of total museum revenues. Canada and the United Kingdom have also introduced the same structure for both tax exemption and the use of specific individual donation and sponsorship programmes. Specifically, a donation is a philanthropic, solidarity-based gesture that does not require any mandatory compensation from the recipient body. Sometimes a donation is identified in a bequest or in a Membership/friends formula. On the other hand, a sponsorship is an initiative for promotional purposes that can provide the company, or the foundation sponsoring the cultural institution, with quid pro quo - it usually corresponds to all advertising that is done to increase the visibility of the sponsor's brand. In addition, an alternative practice to support the arts sector has spread in recent years: crowdfunding. Born as a tool for entrepreneurs and tech companies, it refers to the effort of a network of people who decide to financially support other individuals or organizations. Fundraising takes place mainly on online platforms. The most used formula is micro giving: many users, by freely donating a sum of money, manage to support a project and make a difference.


The involvement of the private sector has made the cultural sector less dependent on public subsidies and has diversified the sources of funding. Following the example of the US, some European countries have begun dealing with budget cuts by promoting policies aimed at developing their cultural institutions' own resources. In France, in the last ten years, there has been an increase in the self-financing rate of many public cultural institutions. This approach aims to increase revenues from ticket sales and various commercial activities such as merchandising, image licensing, publications, catering, privatisation as well as donations, sponsorships and special partnerships. For example, museum institutions can send part of their collections to other cultural institutions for a temporary exhibition and then sell Expositions clés en main (turnkey exhibitions) that generate new profits. This strategy can be both profitable and complex due to the fragility of the works of art, transport problems and delivery arrangements. This is where Convelio’s transport solution comes in - with our instant and highly competitive shipping quotes, for all shipments from Europe and the US, and the quality of service and customer experience expected in the art world, our team is highly equipped to accompany the travelling works of art from the arts and culture sector!

March 11, 2020