In the Arts: Cultural Giving Remains a High Priority for the Wealthy

The wealthiest Americans increased their giving to arts and culture organizations from 2007 to 2009, bucking the decline in overall philanthropy by the country’s rich, says the Los Angeles Times.

As The Chronicle of Philanthropy noted on Wednesday, a new Bank of America Merrill Lynch study found that high-net-worth individuals gave an average of 35 percent less to charity last year than in 2007, but arts giving by those donors rose 11.6 percent on average. Donations to cultural groups were still less than a third of the 2005 average.

Of the nine charity categories covered in the report, arts giving showed the greatest disparity between the rich and the general population, with three-fourths of wealthy households donating to cultural groups compared to one in 13 over all.

In other arts news, the philanthropist Eli Broad called on museums Monday to be less insular and more willing to pool resources in the face of dwindling public and private support, The Wall Street Journal says.

“I’ve seen too many museums that don’t seem to have any interest outside of their fellow curators and art professionals and collectors,” the Los Angeles billionaire said in a private talk at the American Folk Art Museum in New York.  Museums “have to be pushed sometimes to do things that are populist and that will draw an audience and support the institution.”

Also, the Philadelphia Museum of Art broke ground Tuesday on a massive new loading dock museum officials termed the linchpin of a $500-million, Frank Gehry-designed expansion, The Philadelphia Inquirer says. Moving the museum’s loading area will allow it to open up an underground vaulted corridor that will lead into new gallery spaces.

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