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U.K. Starts $120 Million Matching Fund to Boost Cultural Giving

U.K. Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced an 80 million pound ($120 million) matching fund to boost cultural philanthropy, saying the rich in Britain gave six times less to the arts than their U.S. equivalents.

In a speech at the JPMorgan Chase & Co. offices in London today, Hunt said his purpose was not to find a substitute for government grants, nor was it “importing a U.S. model wholesale into the U.K.”

“Surely we must ask ourselves what we can learn from a country in which cultural giving per capita is 37 pounds a month compared to just 6 pounds in the U.K.?” he said.

Hunt’s department is having its budget cut to 1.1 billion pounds by 2015. National museums will get grants reduced by 15 percent over the period.

Far deeper cuts of 29 percent will be sustained by Arts Council England, the body that funnels government subsidies to performing-arts groups and non-national museums in England. Its regularly funded organizations include the Royal Opera House, the National Theatre, Sadler’s Wells Theatre and the Serpentine Gallery.

With the U.K. facing the deepest public spending cuts since World War II, the government is keen to make the wealthy dig into their pockets more.

Of the 80 million pounds in the matching fund announced today, 50 million pounds will come from a five-year package of lottery funding provided to Arts Council England.

The matching fund means that for every 1 pound given, the government will put in an equivalent amount.

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