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Business support for arts drops during COVID-19: report

(Korea Mecenat Association)
(Korea Mecenat Association)
Korean businesses‘ support for the local arts scene decreased in 2020 as pandemic shutdowns dealt a devastating blow to the country, a report released Wednesday by the Korea Mecenat Association showed.

Corporate funding for the art industry dropped 14.6 percent on-year to 177.8 billion won ($154.5 million) in 2020, when 390 companies helped finance 953 art projects, the report showed.

In 2019, 547 companies spent 208.1 billion won on 1,431 projects.

“It seems that corporations’ support for the arts scene decreased as in-person performances were put on hold due to social distancing measures,” said the association, a nonprofit body that encourages corporate support of the arts,

The report was based on a survey of 695 companies, including the country’s top 500 companies in total sales from March to June, those with culture foundations as well as members of the association. The response rate was 39.6 percent.

Prior to 2020, the business community’s funding of the arts had been on the rise for three consecutive years, starting from 2017.

According to the report, support for performing art halls, culture complexes and galleries decreased by 9.3 percent, or 10.6 billion won, compared to the year before.

Sponsorships for art exhibitions slid 11.9 percent -- 2.8 billion won -- and those for arts education fell 14.5 percent -- 2.5 billion won.

Support for classical music performances plunged 42.9 percent, while musicals took a 44.6 percent tumble and dance shows a 50.1 percent drop.
However, financial backing for gugak and traditional arts went up by 5.8 percent, and funds shot up 41.9 percent for the literary sector.

The top giver was tobacco maker KT&G followed by Hyundai Department Store and Hyundai Motors.

Among businesses with in-house culture foundations, the Samsung Foundation of Culture took the top place, followed by the Lotte Foundation for Arts, LG Yonam Foundation and Doosan Yonkang Foundation.

“In times of the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot indefinitely expect the expansion of corporate support for the arts,” the association said.

“The government should provide support through policies,” it said, citing tax credit for donations and deregulation of corporate-managed culture foundations as possible solutions.

By Im Eun-byel (silverstar@heraldcorp.com)
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