When the word “donation” is mentioned, cash is the first thing that comes to mind. But money is not the only way to contribute, as the recent Patron of the Arts Awards show demonstrated. At the ceremony, media company JCDecaux Singapore was lauded for sponsoring advertising space for arts events while Orchard Turn Developments was recognised for offering space to local artists. In-kind giving hit an all-time high last year to the tune of $24.5 million, twice the value of such donations in 2017. Such gifts helped boost donations to the arts and culture. The amount donated rose for the first time in three years, with donors giving $57.4 million compared with $51.6 million in 2017.
While cash is still king, donors are realising that time, effort and other forms of in-kind donations are more than acceptable. This is a good development as more groups seek alternative donors and contributions. When the Esplanade first opened, smaller arts groups worried that it would monopolise sponsorship. Instead, the arts centre has won over new corporate sponsors that have given in inventive new ways. Theatregoers will have memories of receiving warm bao from Din Tai Fung after Stan Lai’s play, The Village. Since then, donors have cottoned on to the idea of reaching a new demographic via the Esplanade and visitors have received everything from CappaRoma coffee sachets to UFC coconut water to Knife cooking oil.
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