The Korea Herald


Corporate donations to arts drops in 2011

By Korea Herald

Published : July 17, 2012 - 19:51

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Korea’s mecenat council urges National Assembly to pass bill that offers tax deduction to companies supporting the arts

The total amount Korean companies gave to the arts and spent on their culture-related activities last year decreased 6.2 percent from the previous year, as businesses have begun to feel the pressure from Europe’s fiscal crisis, the country’s mecenat council said on Tuesday.

According to a survey conducted by the Korean Business Council for the Arts, a total of 624 local companies spent some 162.7 billion won on the arts from January to December last year, a significant decrease from 2010 when they spent 173.5 billion won in financially supporting art troupes, offering cultural activities for low-income families and providing arts education for their employees.
Park Yong-hyun, president of Korean Business Council for the Arts. (KBCA) Park Yong-hyun, president of Korean Business Council for the Arts. (KBCA)

“Companies have already started to feel the crunch and are eliminating arts funding from their priority lists. This is likely to continue through next year,” said KBCA President Park Yong-hyun at a press conference held in Seoul.

Finance and IT firms, in particular, shut their purses to arts contribution more than firms from other sectors, he added.

Samsung Foundation of Culture topped the list of organizations making donations to the arts and operating cultural activities, followed by LG Yonam Foundation and Kumho Asiana Cultural Foundation.

In the business category, Hyundai Heavy Industries, the world’s biggest shipyard, ranked No.1, followed by Home Plus, a discount store chain, and tobacco company KT & G.

Noting it won’t be easy for companies to expand support for the arts, Park, the former head of Doosan Group, nevertheless urged companies to step up efforts as part of their long-term investment. “By making contribution to the arts, companies could improve their corporate image. Think of it as a long-term investment, investment for the future,” he added.

The council will push ahead with the failed mecenat bill first proposed three years ago, as a way to promote corporate donations to the arts.

The gist of the bill is to allow 10 percent additional tax credit to companies that donate artwork; tax deduction (10 percent for big companies and 20 percent for small and medium companies) for the money spent on art education for employees; and registration tax deduction for culture-related non-profit organizations. Lawmakers supporting the bill failed to pass it in the last parliamentary session, partly because of the government’s opposition, Park told reporters.

“The Ministry of Strategy and Finance said that the bill is unlikely to be passed because it will not be fair to those who make donations for non-artistic causes. The government also fears the bill may affect tax revenue,” added Park, who was appointed to lead the council in February.

Park is a surgeon-turned-CEO. A graduate of Seoul National University Medical School, he worked as a surgeon until 2007. He served as the head of Seoul National University Hospital from 1998 to 2004. He served as the head of Doosan Group before his younger brother, Yong-maan, took the post early this year.

By Cho Chung-un (