Understanding varieties of arts philanthropy and Europe
: a new framework

  • Jonathan Gunson

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Philanthropy has always played a role in the support of the cultural sector across Europe, and in the post-war years this has been alongside earned income and – in particular – public funding. In a changing funding landscape, however, and in particular since the financial crisis in 2008, cultural organisations in Europe have found themselves facing reductions in public funding. In order to mitigate these, the cultural sector has found itself looking for alternative sources of financing and there has been a move once more to looking towards philanthropy as one such alternative. This thesis investigates the extent to which arts philanthropy can be considered a new funding model for the cultural sector.

    How philanthropy can be understood as a potential funding stream for the cultural sector is affected by different landscapes and the national, cultural, and institutional environment in which it takes place. Its potential is dependent on political, economic, and civic environment, and this varies across nations, economies, and societies. Drawing from work on ‘varieties of capitalism’, this research develops a framework – varieties of arts philanthropy – by which the role and potential of arts philanthropy can be mapped and understood in different national and institutional environments. Taking cultural organisations rather than firms as its central focus, both the opportunities and constraints for philanthropy can be understood when mapped against components of the framework such as ‘Cultures of giving’, ‘Philanthropic policy’, ‘Public-private sector relations’, and ‘State levels’.

    This research undertakes a comparative study of the arts funding and philanthropic landscapes of three different European political-economic contexts – England, the Netherlands, and Denmark. The process of mapping and semi-structured interviews contributes to a greater understanding of the landscape and dynamics of arts funding and philanthropy in the respective countries, the key institutions, the relations between them, and, ultimately, their particular variety of arts philanthropy.

    Through this conceptual development it is shown that rather than seeking to replicate other systems, and the easy learning of policy mobilities through the mobilisation and 13 territorialisation of policies and policy knowledge, developments in arts funding models need to be based upon the structural conditions and specificities of the surrounding institutional environment. It is possible to identify the key components in understanding the varieties of arts philanthropy within any institutional, national, or multi-scalar setting. First, this framework could similarly be applied to other environments, for example, non-European examples such as in Japan, India, or Australia, and second, it informs how practical funding strategies around philanthropy can be built recognising the specificities of the national and institutional environment.

    The common theme that emerges across the three countries is that a more mixed model of funding is necessary in current funding climates, but that philanthropy can only function as part of a mixed funding model. It may be necessary alongside public funding, but it is in no position to replace it. How arts philanthropy might develop – such as from foundations, new forms of company and venturing, individuals or solidarity-based approaches – and through what methods (such as tax incentives, regional models, and religion-based cultures of giving) is framed by the variety of arts philanthropy in place.

    Date of AwardMar 2019
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorNick Henry (Supervisor), Jennifer Ferreira (Supervisor) & Clive Winters (Supervisor)

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