Monday 17 January 2011

On artists' estates

An article in the Art Newspaper caught my eye last week. In 'The Sleeping Giant of Philanthropy' András Szántó reviews the findings of a recent report about American artists' estates.

Some of the facts and figures in the report (based on a survey of 239 estates):

  • at the most recent count, there are nearly 300 artist estates in the States
  • they have a combined worth of approximately $2.7bn in assets
  • the 30 most active foundations disbursed $52.5m in grants in total in 2008
  • The average age at which artists set up foundations rose from 64 prior to 1986 to 74 in 2005
  • "Foundations established by artists tend to be quite small, with 73% reporting assets under $5m." (I love America).

Once again, one of the differentiators between the US and New Zealand (beyond sheer scale) are the tax rules and incentives. An interpretation of the finding that the proportion of foundations founded after the artist's death is rising is that:

Living artists can deduct only the cost of materials for charitable contributions of their works of art, while US laws permit a fair market value charitable deduction from the estate tax. In other words, there is a greater tax advantage to being philanthropic for artists after they die.

All this reminds me that I must get round to loading and reading the Cultural Philanthropy Taskforce report, which was released late last year. Peter Dunne was quick to congratulate the group on congratulating the Government on its recent tax changes to charitable giving. Meanwhile, back in July 2010 the IRD identified cracking down on abuse of this tax incentive as a compliance focus.

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