In this week’s installment of Art Related Things I Read in the New York Times (previous installments 1 and 2), at the end of December I read an article about the recent shift towards crowdfunding by major institutions in Paris. Austerity measures that are sweeping across Europe have been particularly hard on France, where the first cultural budget cut in more than 30 years has resulted in only (a meager) $3.1 billion. “Money for new art acquisitions has shrunk to $11.1 million, from $26 million in 2009,” according to the article. Thanks to a French start-up, called My Major Company, anyone can donate to help, say, restore the dome of the Pantheon, or help the Louvre acquire a 13th-century pair of statuettes. In fact, with the help of 2,500 art-enthusiast average Joes, the Louvre has raised over $650k. In 2010, when they wanted a 16th-century oil painting, crowdfunding helped raise $1.6m. Donations earn exclusive tickets to private events and parties, or just a photograph of your face outside the entrance to the Pantheon. Personally, I’d like a wing dedicated in my honor, but that’s just because I’m greedy.
Public funding of the arts is sort of a staple here (think: PBS, list of major donors etched into every wall of every museum in the country) but is a relatively new phenomenon in France. I’d like to think that I’d contribute to the Lyon Museum’s bid for a $1m Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres painting, but I (shamefully) don’t even donate to the arts here aside from an annual membership to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. People generally want incentives for their generosity (the article even mentions the ubiquitous free PBS tote bags). Would you donate to art for art’s sake? Or would the tickets to a private party at the Louvre really sway you?