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How Individuals and Organizations Fund Arts and Culture

Updated on March 11, 2015


Arts and culture are essential to all societies as they provide an important historical and contemporary context for national identity, creative works and cultural norms..

As countries develop and mature, the need to preserve and protect historic and contemporary art becomes even more important. In times of economic hardship, investing in art and culture is difficult due to limited finances; organizations are even more reliant on charitable donations, patronage and other means to raise money.

There are still several ways that governments, organizations and individuals can continue to promote artistic and cultural importance. This article explores the main ways that museums, galleries and other organizations can raise funds to continue to support art and culture.

The main ways that finds are raised

The main ways that individuals and organizations support arts and culture are:

  • Charity and donations
  • Fees to visit museums and galleries
  • Patronage and investment
  • Membership of museums and galleries
  • Crowdfunding
  • Government funding

Charity and donations

There are a number of reputable charities around the world that are dedicated to preserving art and culture, whether that be through art in museums and galleries or from a wider cultural perspective. These charities are normally funded by private or corporate donations, on a one-off or ongoing basis.

Many organizations and charities also run public fund-raising events and sponsored activities, designed to promote public awareness and increase donations to good causes; charitable donations remain one of the most significant ways that arts and culture are funded.

Fees to visit museums and galleries

Although many museums and galleries are free to visit, some do have an entrance fee. In almost all cases, this entrance fee is used to directly support the museum and contribute towards the purchase and protection of historic, artistic and cultural artifacts.

In cases where the overall entrance to a museum or gallery is free, there are often special, ticketed events where the ticket price goes towards artistic preservation.

Some museums charge to see their collections in order to raise funds for curation and preservation of our historic artifacts
Some museums charge to see their collections in order to raise funds for curation and preservation of our historic artifacts | Source

Membership of museums and galleries

Many galleries and museums operate membership and 'Friends' programmes where an individual can sign up to financially support and sponsor an organization.

The benefits to individuals can include special events, newsletters, workshops, educational activities and more.

We can all learn to appreciate our cultural heritage
We can all learn to appreciate our cultural heritage | Source

Patronage and investment

Some people and organizations enjoy being patrons of the arts, using their wealth and influence to purchase and lend artistic works and collections to galleries.

A patron may purchase art due to philanthropy or because they are making a longer term investment and hope that the work will grow in value.

In addition to supporting historic work, many patrons also provide money to contemporary artists, writers and other people that influence culture. Patrons may also choose to leave bequests as part of their estate.


With the growing popularity of Kickstarter, Indiegogo and other crowdfunding sites, artists can now get attention and request support from large numbers of people. In return for people contributing money to support their work, contributors will often receive rewards from the artist.

Many of these campaigns have become incredibly popular, and there is currently a great deal of interest in art as a result of crowdfunding efforts.

Governments will sometimes fund the purchase and preservation of important works
Governments will sometimes fund the purchase and preservation of important works | Source

Government funding

In some cases, a government may provide funds to purchase, preserve or protect especially noteworthy artistic and cultural works. Many governments have dedicated budgets to support cultural and artistic activities, although these budgets have been squeezed over the last few years.

There is an application and grants process that organizations go through to request funds from a government and there are normally stringent requirements and commitments that need to be made to receive money.

How art gives shape to cultural change

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In closing

Protecting our artistic and cultural heritage is vitally important, as many of these touchpoints support national identity, give a historical context and provide a basis for further creative work.

As we continue to feel the effects of the slow economy, organizations are adapting to make sure that our cultural and historic artifacts continue to be preserved.


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    • Paul Maplesden profile image

      Paul Maplesden 3 years ago from Asheville, NC

      As government funding for the arts is always under pressure, I think it's worth understanding what we can do as individuals. An understanding of how art and culture have dominated our history is, I think, essential.

    • mrod profile image

      Monique Rodriguez 3 years ago

      Thanks for this very well written article. People really need to appreciate the important role art plays in our world, not just in an aesthetic sense, but as preserver of cultural values and history. Every piece of art or artifact gives us a glimpse of a place, a time, a belief, or a practice. Without the creative products left behind by skillful individuals we would know very little about the glory of the Egyptian era, the powerful empire of the Romans, or even about the very humble beginnings of art itself as depicted in caves paintings in Lascaux, France. Thanks again.

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 3 years ago

      Interesting, I was unaware of kickstarter, etc.