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How to raise £166 million for the Tate: “Money follows energy”

The museum’s low-profile fundraising has achieved the biggest capital sum ever for a UK museum, but who is to pay for the running costs?

The Tate Gallery has now almost reached its fundraising target of £166 million for the two millennium projects at Tate Britain and Tate Modern, as the two branches in Millbank and Bankside respectively are to be known. This will be the largest sum ever raised by a UK museum. Until now the Tate’s fundraising staff have kept a low profile, devoting their energy to wooing the wealthy. But now that the huge task is nearing its end, they are finally willing to reveal a few trade secrets.

Tate Modern was the bigger challenge, requiring £134 million. Fay Ballard, its fundraiser, started five years ago by approaching the most sympathetic individuals (and a few organisations) to help with the £3 million start-up costs. Although this represented a relatively small proportion of what was required, it helped convince the Millennium Commission that the Tate meant business and many of the early donors later gave more substantial sums.

The Tate got its Lottery bid in early, and it was one of the first projects to win support, receiving £50 million from the Millennium Commission in October 1995 (only two other capital projects were later awarded a sum of this magnitude).

In May 1996 the Tate formally acquired Bankside Power Station and received £12 million from English Partnerships (the government’s urban regeneration agency) to remove the machinery from inside.

The Tate was then almost half way to raising the money, but finding the second half posed much more of a challenge. Ms Ballard went for the “gift pyramid” strategy, targeting the most loyal and wealthy supporters, and then moving down from the extremely rich to the very rich. The first step was to identify potential donors, and this involved considerable research and taking advice from the Tate’s trustees. Then the names were carefully researched, to determine how they should be contacted. Rather than a letter, potential donors were usually personally approached, often through a friend.

Those approached were asked two questions: “Would you like to see the Bankside site?” and “Would you like to meet Sir Nicholas Serota?” Both tended to be answered in the affirmative. Ms Ballard insists that Sir Nicholas played a key role, because it was he who had the “vision” for Bankside and could best articulate it to donors. “Nick always says that money follows energy,” she added. The Tate’s director is said to have spent at least 15% of his time during the past few years on fundraising, equivalent to nearly a day a week. (The TateModern’s director Lars Nittve, appointed in April 1998, has concentrated on curatorial planning.)

Tate staff listened to the responses of potential donors and they did their best to develop a relationship. At a slightly later stage a further question was posed: “Would you consider helping Bankside?”. If the response was positive, a detailed written proposal was sent, explaining the project, responding to any of their questions or doubts, sometimes including extracts from the Tate’s Business Plan, and suggesting an area of support which might have a particular appeal for them. The next stage, if everything went smoothly, was to conclude the donation. Often the whole process of approaching a donor took two years.

Altogether private donors, together with family trusts and charitable organisations, such as City livery companies, provided nearly £55 million for Bankside. Two thirds of this was given by twenty-four “founding benefactors”, most of whom gave around £1 million. Four wished to remain anonymous, but The Art Newspaper announces the names of the remainder. These benefactors will have spaces named after them: a gallery room, an educational facility or an architectural feature such as a staircase.

Of the £55 million, just over half came from British donors and the remainder from abroad.

By far the largest overseas source was the US. Some came from Europe and a relatively small proportion from the Far East. Although the high proportion from abroad may come as a surprise to some, Ms Ballard stresses that the Tate Modern is very much an “international” museum. “There are a lot of American collectors who spend a sizable part of the year travelling, and they see themselves as global citizens supporting a global project,” she explained. Americans also have a tradition of giving to charity and the arts (encouraged by their tax system), although obviously this means that potential US donors are constantly approached by their own museums.

Outsiders might also be surprised at the relatively low level of corporate support for the Tate Modern. This brought in £2.4 million, less than 2% of the total. Companies are much keener on sponsoring exhibitions which get publicity and offer an opportunity for entertaining clients, and they are less interested in capital projects.

Among art world companies, probably only Christie’s and Sotheby’s are sufficiently large players to have become founding benefactors, but both auction houses are understood to have declined, despite the opportunity to have had a named gallery room in Bankside.

The final source of money for Tate Modern is the Arts Council Lottery Fund, which last February offered £6.2 million towards a suite of galleries for contemporary art displays. This leaves just under £9 million which still has to be raised, but this should be achieved just before the opening of Tate Modern on 12 May.

The one crucial financial issue which has not yet been resolved for Tate Modern is its recurrent funding. It will cost the Tate roughly an extra £12 million a year to run Bankside, and it is hoped to raise around 60% of this from the gallery’s own resources—including tickets for special exhibitions, income from shops and cafés, and donations and sponsorship. The trustees are committed to free general admission, but there would be a shortfall of nearly £5 million a year which would have to be met by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. As we went to press, it seemed that the Department had made an offer slightly below this figure, and this is due to be discussed by the trustees later this month. Agreement is likely to be reached, and if so admission will remain free at Bankside.

The Tate has also had to raise £32 million for Millbank to develop the existing building and create Tate Britain (this fundraising effort is being headed by Anne Beckwith-Smith). Again, a Lottery application was submitted at an early stage and in February 1997 the Heritage Lottery Fund offered £18.75 million, which represented just over half the total sum.

Millbank’s saviour has been Sir Edwin Manton, an elderly British insurance executive who has lived in New York since the 1930s (The Art Newspaper, No. 73, September 1997, p.9). He and his wife have donated £5.7 million for the Millbank development, plus a further sum of almost this amount for early planning costs and for later associated projects (to be announced later).

Other individual donors have provided a total of £7 million, much of it provided by three major donors (Lord and Lady Sainsbury of Preston Candover, Sir Harry and Lady Djanogly and the Wolfson Foundation). Corporate donors have given a modest £100,000. This leaves £700,000 to go, which should be raised before TateBritain is launched on 24 March.

How much will it have cost to raise the money for Bankside and Millbank? Glossy PR and fundraising galas were avoided. Tickets and accommodation were never provided for overseas donors, although they were entertained at Tate functions. The main expense was running the fundraising team and during the past five years its total costs have been just under £1 million. Add to that entertainment and other staff costs, and this probably means that raising the money cost around 1% of the £166 million. Obviously pursuing two huge fundraising campaigns at the same time created certain difficulties for the Tate, and in general potential donors were not asked to support both projects. Most donors had a particular interest in either British or modern art, and were approached accordingly. Paradoxically the availability of Lottery money, made fundraising more difficult because other museums and galleries were also trying to raise very large sums of partnership funding for major development projects. “We are fishing in the same pond,” Ms Ballard said.

The seven steps

• Identify the potential donor.

• Research the person.

• Plan how to approach them.

• Talk to them and form a relationship.

• At the right moment, ask if they will consider giving.

• Produce a detailed proposal.

• Conclude the donation—and

reciprocate by maintaining a

good relationship in the future.

Who gave what

tate modern

Millennium Commission £50 million

English Partnerships 12

Arts Council Lottery Fund 6.2

Individual donors/trusts 54.8

Corporate donors 2.4

To be raised 8.8

Total £134.2 million

Major individual donors to the Tate Modern

(around £1 million+)

Frances and John Bowes (US)

Mr & Mrs James Brice (US / UK)

Donald L. Bryant Jr family (US)

Clore Foundation (Vivien Duffield, UK)

Gilbert de Botton (UK)

Sir Harry and Lady Djanogly (UK)

Doris and Donald Fisher (US)

Richard B. and Jeanne D. Fisher (US)

Noam and Geraldine Gottesman (US/UK)

André and Rosalie Hoffmann (Switzerland)

Lord and Lady Jacobs (UK)

Irene and Hyman Kreitman (UK)

Monument Trust (Simon Sainsbury, UK)

Mr and Mrs M.D. Moross (South Africa/UK)

Maja Oeri and Hans Bodenmann (Switzerland)

Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation (UK)

Stephan Schmidheiny (Switzerland)

Starr Foundation (the late Cornelius V. Starr, US)

John Studzinski (US/UK)

Weston Foundation (Garfield Weston, UK)

plus four anonymous contributors

tate britain

Heritage Lottery Fund £18.75 million

Sir Edwin and Lady Manton 5.7

Other individual donors/trusts 7.05

Corporate donors .1

To be raised .7

Total £32.3 million

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 97 November 1999