for Arts
& Culture

Great to see coverage of NPAC’s Arts for Impact matched funding opportunity with the Big Give in today’s edition of The Times – in which Richard Morrison chats to NPAC’s chair Sir Vernon Ellis.

Times Subscribers can read the whole article here, but in the meantime here are a few takeaways:

A man sitting in front of a window. He has grey hair and white skin and is wearing a dark suit, pale shirt and spotted tie.

“Vernon Ellis is undoubtedly one of the arts world’s good guys. A former chairman of the British Council and (in happier times) English National Opera, and a trustee of many more cultural organisations, the former Accenture chairman has himself donated more than £9 million to the arts. But as we perch on stools in his favourite London café, and he starts to explain his scheme for persuading more wealthy people to donate to the arts, he does sound a bit like an 18th-century trader flogging shares in the South Sea Company before the bubble burst.
“Say you donate £400, Richard, and become one of our ‘champions’,” he says. “With gift aid that’s immediately worth £500. Then it’s matched pound for pound by Reed, so that’s £1,000. That will go to an arts organisation that also has to match it pound for pound. So your £400 has generated five times that amount for the arts.” At 76 his maths and powers of persuasion are still so effective that I’m almost compelled to reach for my credit card there and then. Especially as he bought the coffees.”

“How do you get more rich people donating to cultural organisations when so many have never experienced the arts up close and personal? A few years ago Ellis set up a group of like-minded donors (New Philanthropy for Arts & Culture, or NPAC) to brainstorm ways of tacking that very issue by emphasising the social, educational and health benefits that the arts can bring. This autumn, in an alliance with the Big Give fundraising organisation founded by Reed, it has launched a scheme called Arts for Impact ( that should immediately raise £2 million of new money for the arts.
It works as Ellis outlined above. Reed has donated £500,000 on the understanding that Ellis raises another £500,000 from his “champions”. This he has already done — £155,000 from NPAC members; £220,000 from new donors that the NPAC has “nurtured”; and £125,000 from various public funds. Local arts organisations are now invited to apply for grants of up to £20,000 that will be awarded if they themselves raise the equivalent amount using Big Give’s online fundraising platform for a designated week next March.”

“Ellis argues that it’s not good enough simply to say that “the arts benefit everyone’s wellbeing”. He believes the arts world has to compile compelling statistics of economic benefits (for instance, how making the residents of care homes happier reduces their medication bills, or helps to retain carers). To that end the NPAC has already compiled 40 case studies of “arts with impact” on its website. So Ellis’s vision stretches far wider than merely devising an ingenious fundraiser for the arts. He sees Arts for Impact as a double catalyst: a way of tapping into the local pride of potential donors, rather than relying on them “loving the arts”, and also of chivvying arts organisations into putting together irrefutable statistics showing the economic benefits that increased funding would bring.”