Classical musicians feel the pinch as corporate donations fall - Korea Times
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Classical musicians feel the pinch as corporate donations fall

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The audience waits for The Korea Times' annual spring concert to begin at the Grand Hall of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in central Seoul, March 4. Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul
The audience waits for The Korea Times' annual spring concert to begin at the Grand Hall of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in central Seoul, March 4. Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul

By Park Ji-won

After the coronavirus pandemic hit, corporate donations for the arts have dropped sharply and classical music has been hit especially hard.

According to the survey conducted on 695 companies from March to June by the Korea Mecenat Association, corporate donations fell 14.6 percent from the previous year. The number of companies donating to support the arts also dropped to 390, down 28.7 percent from the previous year.

Among others, donations for classical music fell 42.9 percent.

According to the association, corporate donations had been continuing to rise for three years before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. The pandemic was a game changer, drastically reducing donations.

Many concerts, exhibitions and other forms of cultural activities were canceled or postponed. Some events managed to be held in person with tightened social distancing rules ― such as reduced seating capacity ― which had a massive effect on organizers' bottom lines.

"The culture industry, which has been communicating with audiences in person, was hit hard by the social distancing rules and was forced to scale back cultural events. The corporate donations have also shrunk according to the decreased number of events."

By category, the money that companies donated to support the operations of cultural facilities dropped by 9.3 percent. They cut donations for exhibitions by 11.9 percent, culture education programs by 14.5 percent, plays by 13.9 percent, musicals by 44.6 percent, multidisciplinary arts by 49.8 percent and dance by 50.1 percent.

The association urged the government to expand the little existing support for the arts, saying, "It is expected that it will take quite some time to normalize the companies' operation. Given the situation, the association calls for the government to introduce some tax deductions or ease regulations on companies that give donations to the arts."


Park Ji-won jwpark@koreatimes.co.kr


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