British Charitable trust system

British Charitable trust system’s contribution to the development of British culture and the arts

In contemporary Britain, the cultural development is rarely dominated by the official government. The government’s function largely exists in cultural project commissions and regulatory aspects, that is, through the means of setting policies to stimulate local forces for promoting art and culture development; through the establishment of laws and regulations to protect the healthy operation of culture and the arts. Ever since, a variety of non-government agencies and organizations came into being, to take up the responsibilities of research, preservation, promotion and creation, as to promote the prosperity and development of culture and the arts. Among them, the non-profit trust fund system is the source of the entire British art ecosystem.

Thousands of non-government organizations are in operation in the United Kingdom, the backbone of which is those trusts and foundations with enormous financial resources, which have access to every social aspect. They can be divided into public foundations, corporate foundations and individual foundations. All the foundations are able to gain the preferential tax policy under the supervision of the law, which also means to invest part of the government income into broader social affairs. And at the same time, business corporations and individuals can obtain a better social image.

In the UK, the arts trusts and foundations mainly provide financial and technical supports for art creativities, art exhibitions, art research, art protection and art collection. So to speak, the prosperity of British contemporary arts and culture could not ever exist without arts foundations.

In the UK, the non-profit foundations of the culture and arts
are the main advocates for publicizing contemporary arts. They provide a major route of transmission, including museums under the name of the foundations, galleries and art institutions, to realize an initial stage of culture and art spreading through exhibitions and collections, then through books publishing, media release, conferences and art education for further and wider publicity, as to promote a socially profound and broad understanding of arts in all levels of the aesthetic, historical, cultural, social and economic significance. Britain’s culture and art non-profit foundations accelerate the prosperity of art development within
its order, which relate to art production, collection and dissemination, and introduce new artworks to the world by means of art creation projects. They also collect arts from different times and cultural backgrounds, while taking the initiative for external dissemination, laying a significant platform for the development of contemporary human culture.

But there are fears that the strict foundation system and its professional operation, and also its intense involvement with contemporary arts, will exert an objective and profound impact on the development of contemporary arts. It is due to the reason that the recognition and power of decision making of arts are no longer the
artists’ consciousness or spontaneous behaviours. But instead, art trusts’ and foundations’ strong capital strength and effects of their publicity are more likely to influence the degree of public awareness and acceptance of artworks.


當代英國,文化的發展方向很少有來自政府官 方的主導,在很大程度上政府的職能存在於對 文化項目的委託和監管方面,也就是通過政策 激發民間的力量推動文化藝術的發展;通過設 立法律法規來保障文化藝術領域健康的運轉。 於是乎形形色色的非政府機構和組織應運而 生,肩負起研究、保存、推廣和創作等各項職 責,推動文化藝術的繁榮發展。其中,非盈利的 信託基金體系便是整個英國藝術生態系統的生 命之源。

英國有成千上萬的非政府組織,其中的中堅力 量是擁有巨大財力的各色信託和基金會,他們 觸及到社會的方方面面,大致可以分為公立基 金會、企業基金會及個人基金會。各類基金會在 法律的監督下獲得優惠的稅收政策,也就是將 政府的一部份收入投入到更廣泛的社會事務當 中,同時企業和個人也可以獲得更加良好的社 會形象。

在英國,藝術信託和基金對藝術的贊助主要是 對藝術創作、展覽、研究、保護、收藏等方面的 資金、技術支持。可以說,沒有藝術基金會就沒 有英國當代藝術和文化的繁榮局面。

英國的基金會大致有幾種類型,一是綜合性基 金會,二是政府相關基金會,三是企業基金會, 四是由私人收藏或畫廊演變而成的基金會。 在英國,非盈利文化藝術基金會是當代藝術主 要推動者,它們提供了主要的傳播途徑,這裡 包括基金會背後的各級別的美術館、畫廊和一些藝術機構;通過展覽、收藏的方式進行第一 層面的傳播,通過出版書籍、媒體發布、研討會 議、藝術教育等進行深度和廣度上的傳播,促 進全社會對藝術在美學、歷史、文化、社會以及 經濟各個層面上的意義深刻廣泛的認識。英國 的文化藝術類非盈利基金會促進了藝術發展的 繁榮而有序,它涉及到藝術生產、匯集和傳播過 程,它通過對藝術創作項目為世界提供新的藝 術品;也收藏來自各個時代各種文化背景的藝 術;又主動對外傳播,為當代人類文化發展提供 了重要的平台。

但也有人擔心,基金會制度的嚴格和專業化操 作以及對當代藝術的深度介入會客觀的和深刻 的影響當代藝術的發展進程,因為對藝術的認 可和決策力量已經不僅僅是藝術家的自覺和自 發行為,藝術信託和基金會的強大資本力量和 宣傳效果很可能會影響大眾對藝術品的認知和 接受程度。

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