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Rich Americans' philanthropy dropped in 2009, but not for the arts, study finds

November 9, 2010 |  5:15 pm

MOCA2009galaAnnJohansson “Let me tell you about the very rich,” F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in 1926. “They are different from you and me.”

The facts support him still, judging by a study of rich folks’ charitable habits released Tuesday. One of the things that most differentiates them from the rest of us, it reveals, is that they give to the arts.

In their “Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy,” Bank of America and Merrill Lynch found that households with incomes of $200,000 or more, or net worths of at least $1 million (not counting a primary home's value) devoted 7.5 cents out of their charitable dollar to the arts during 2009, compared to a penny for the population at large.

Nearly three out of four wealthy households gave to the arts; for the general population it was just over one in thirteen.

The disparities between the wealthy and the rank and file were considerably greater for the arts than for any of the other nine categories covered by the study, which was conducted by Indiana University's Center on Philanthropy and reported earlier Tuesday by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. The second biggest difference was in religious giving. That’s where 63 cents out of each charitable dollar went for the general U.S. population, nearly five times greater than the 13-cent share for religion among rich people.

Looking at the four-year arc of the study, the arts feasted on their richest patrons’ donations in 2005, when the average wealthy household gave $17,498 inflation-adjusted dollars; arts groups had to get by on table scraps in 2007, when average giving fell to $4,958, but they enjoyed a more decent meal in 2009, thanks to an 11.6% increase, to $5,531.

GoldBarsChrisRatcliffeBloomberg Of the ten categories, the arts finished fifth in 2009, up from seventh in 2007. The higher giving priorities for the wealthy in 2009 were education (a $12,759 average household gift), religious charities, youth and family services and “other.” Trailing arts donations were gifts to “combination” charities such as the United Way, international giving, and donations for health, environment/animal care and basic needs.

Apparently, the rich are like you and me in at least one way:  When the economy goes bad, they tend to feel less generous. The wealthy gave 9% of their income to charity in 2009, the study showed, down from 11% in 2007. With incomes in decline, that translated to a 35% drop in dollars donated by the wealthy, from an average of $83,000 per household to $54,000. Much of the charitable load was carried by a relatively small group of especially generous rich people -– only 19% of wealthy households gave $50,000 or more, and only 2.5% gave $500,000 or more.  The Scrooge factor -– those who give nothing -– was 1.8% among the rich, 35% in the general population.

Researchers randomly sent 12-page questionnaires to 20,000 households in neighborhoods where net assets average at least $3 million; the results were culled from 801 responses; the average worth of the responding households was $10.7 million. Figures quoted for the general population were from a separate 2007 study by the Center on Philanthropy.

-- Mike Boehm

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Photos: Guests inside the party tent at a November 2009 gala for the Museum of Contemporary Art, which raised $4 million; gold bars and coins; Eli and Edythe Broad. Credits: Ann Johansson/For The Times (MOCA gala); Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg; Dan Steinberg/Associated Press.


Comments () | Archives (7)

Just proves the arts are now godless. All great artists have at least a sense of God in their works, even a commie like Picasso. He had good reasosn after the Spanish Civil war. Most all modern artists were either religious or involved with spirituality in some sense, academics like Kandinsky and Mondrian, to devout Cezanne, Braque and Rouault, to mystical types like Chagall and Klee.

God is an essential part of creative art. It is seeking our purpose in life. Not eternal life, that is for organized religion, but what we do with the life we have been given, for which we should be eternally grateful without asking for more. It is what binds us, gives common purpose to go on even when things are bad for us individually, we protect and sacrafice, are responsible for others, and commit to a common set of believes. Things unheard of in the spineless artscene.

All of which the Meist contempt generations and their patrons, who believe they are above such things, has led to our dull and leaden mediocrity of selishness. Nothing from the last fifty years will survive. Because it doesnt care about anything but career, and getting ones own. I doubt artistes give much at all, as they are always looking for a handout, instead of sucking it up and doing for a common purpose.

Art is now the religion of the souless. As it is all about ones own "cleverness" and supposed superiority. LMAO!sadly

art collegia delenda est

To Mr. Frazell:

It amazes me that the holier-than -now comment was made below. The only reason that religious giving is so high and stays there is patrons of the church are told over and over again by those running the church that we will be damned if we do not. A friend told me a story once where the Pastor of her church came back after the tiding was counted and said that there was not enough money given that week and that he was passing the baskets out again until they reach "his" goal and would not go on with the teaching of the day and God is disappointed in them. If that's not pressure into giving and making one feel guilty for giving what they can, not sure I want to be part of their /your God! My God would NEVER say I was not worthy for his love if I was not able to tide more.

What would the world be if the Arts and Artist said we are not going to paint, write or perform again until we receive what "We feel our art is worth after you gave what was asked of you." It would be a very Blah world to live in!! They do what they do because of the passion that comes from the core of their soul not for the money or the holier-than-now look at me as you so pointed out.

You did say, "God is an essential part of creative art. It is seeking our purpose in life." I Believe this why we have art- its our way to seek as you say "our purpose in life" it shows the passion of our lives through the Artist, it gives us a time to ponder what it is our lives are about.. To say ALL "Art is now the religion of the soulless " is only showing your own superiorness. I am so grateful for those that can give to the Arts and continue to do so... it is because of the Arts that I have learned about mankind and have passion for all my fellow man with the understanding this is a gift my God has truly given to the world!

All I can do is share my personal situation.

My husband and I are both creatives. I am an artist and graphic designer. He is a photographer, writer and singer/songwriter. We make less that 18,000 a year and we often struggle.

There are two very important factors to consider here.

We know how important the arts are because we have lived it. The arts are important on so many levels. They have helped us through the roughest times in our lives. Like Donald, I believe the arts and God are so intertwined that you cannot have one without the other. That will, no doubt, rub both sides the wrong way but it's the simple truth.

We've had our talents ignored and pushed aside because "you need to get a real job" (aka McDonald's...yeah, I know right!). We've had the misfortune of working at these horrible dead-end jobs (and by that I don't mean money or promotions) most of our lives. "You should be thankful you have a job" they tell you like they're doing you a favor... while you're one step away from starving, you can barely keep your power on and your soul is slowly stripped away right before your eyes. Some favor.

Now I'm not saying that you shouldn't be thankful for any job that you have... you should! It's the way they go about it that's the problem. You're constantly talked down to and reminded of how much they're "helping you" by working you like a dog, paying you minimum wage and making your life a living hell.

Needless to say, we would support the arts more than most if given the opportunity. The sad part is, just like most of the people we know, we have to focus our attention on staying afloat. We give back to the arts in many ways, it has just never been possible (yet) for that support to be monetarily.

That leads me to the other half of the conundrum. Since we know all too well what it's like to have to worry about things like food, water and electricity, we feel like we have no choice but to feed people with our tithes and charitable contributions.

I cannot in good conscience let millions of people die of starvation in order to support the corrupted form of the arts that is being forced upon us. What matters most about the arts (contrary to popular belief) is not the ostentatious pomp and circumstance that it has become. I would pose the question: which of these two things (knowingly or not) are the people you've praised here supporting? I've got a pretty good guess.

I mean, look at the photo. How much of that money was wasted on this farce? You can have a nice thank you dinner (if you honestly feel like you need one) without all that. The great thing about art is that you can create it from nothing. You don't need the charade.

That is all. :)

Heather UpChurch
Art & Design Studios

LMAO! Again! Must have touched a nerve of truth. J.A.Z. its all about you, isnt it? sorry you had some bad experiences with preachers, it happens, there are con men in all fields, art not the least of them. I know some very good and truthful ones, ones that my wife both agree upon, and she is Muslim and i am Christian, well sorta. The artist doesnt matter worth a damn. He is no more or less valuable than anyone else of the 6 billion on htis earth. it is NOT about YOU.

Art is for Us to understand Our world. The individual is useless. We are but a developed filter that attempts to catch things that are essential to us all. Art is a triggering mechanism, that allows the viewer to see the world not through the artists insignificant life, we are no better than the viewer, but through a work that resolves the supposed contradictions in life. A great work of art is all about relationships, of line, color and form, that is where it gets its power and comes alive. It must have a living presence, in the room.

Art is not about artists. it has a purpose in humanity, one that the daycare art centers have driven out of naive young students with pavlovian trainings to respond to the absurd and "clever' instead of the soul. Art is the bonding of mind body and soul and humanities common purpose, what it means to be human. Self expression is for adolescents, adults strive to understand, to explore, and that can not come in a sheltered gilded ghettoized art scene or Ivory towered Academy. Theories are for those who dont feel or explore.

Save the spiritual Watts Towers(Nuestro Pueblo) true art, tear down the decadent self absorbed Ivories

In the arts, those who can do, those who cant teach, or seek handouts. We all must work, thats life, get used to it. Why not you when the other 6 billion must? Most artists worth a damn over the last 150 went through hard times, and had to take real jobs Adversity builds character. This is America, not Somalia. havent been without full time employment but two weeks of my life, and i am 51. Get a job. But art is not the place of develop real world skills. Unless you can excel at applied darts, and still there are over 100 for every job, always has been,my mother was a working graphic artist since.

most money for the arts are wasted, and what is considered
"creative" is usually entertainment, not creative art. There are polar opposites. Yin and yang, both needed, but entertainment needs to take are of itself, as art must. There are far more important things to spend money on. Artist will work no matter what, i have except for 13 years to raise my kids, the most creative act of all. Now I am back, and my god it sucks. I thought it was bad in the mid 90s, but damn!

It is time to put aside childish things

St Paul, and some guy named obama.

The selfless philanthropy of wealthy individuals MAKES IT POSSIBLE for atists to acquire the tools to create the art that the wealthy individuals are usually fans of...by CONTRIBUTING to what they love, they feel CLOSER to what they love. Thanks be to GOD, we have people who BELIEVE in what we do and want to be a part of it.

What if Michael Jordan was never GIVEN a basketball?

No one but a friend or family would have given MJ a ball til his senior year. He was cut from Varsity as a soph, kids get shoes if on top travel teams and expense paid, I know, I coached. But the kids woulda balled anyway, they didnt need handouts, but worked hard at somethig they had talent for and drive to fulfill. I know, the starting guard for the Knicks grew up with my son, and Russell Westbrook of the OKC Thunder and world champion on is travel team.

They wouldnt stop. One doesnt need a lot to work, but do need access to real art, and not just sit around and whine with self absorbed rantings and selfish expression. Basketball is a team game so must leanr to rise. Art only needs to entertain the decadent wealthy, no skills or work discipline needed.

An artist will work no matter what. If they quite because they have to get a real job, they never were creative artist to begin with. No more than some wannabe HS baller could beat MJ. Not in the same leage, so academic art doesnt even try to compete with the big boys, and so get amateur slop who dont have the fundamentals or even know what art is. And yes, art is competitive, in wanting to be the best. It means comparing ones emotional impace, and reflection of reality, to histories best. If you dont, yu will always be at best minor league.

art collegai delenda est


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