Thursday, January 4

Altria stubs out corporate donations

It has been rumored for some time that a major reduction in philanthropy was looming as Philip Morris parent company Altria restructured the corporation. Jennifer Goodale, the vice president in charge of contributions at Altria, was quoted in The Art Newspaper today as saying, “We anticipate that our programme will be significantly reduced in 2008.”

Ms Goodale has sent notices to grant recipients alerting them that the grants they receive in 2007 may be their last. It is well publicized known that Altria supports a lot of domestic violence shelters and soup kitchens. Those that did not have a diversified base of funding could face the possibility of closing.

Larger museums like the Whitney Museum of American Art will not close if it loses its Altria money. However, the cuts could be severe. The Whitney receives more than $500,000 per year to support exhibitions at Altria’s corporate headquarters in midtown Manhattan. Altria has also sponsored each of the past five Whitney Biennials, providing $500,000 for the 2006 edition.

According to The Art Newspaper, other museums that rely on Altria funding include El Museo del Barrio (which got $313,000 in 2005), the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC and the Menil Collection in Houston ($150,000 each), the New Museum of Contemporary Art ($210,000), and the Museum of African Art in New York ($105,000).

The company has done good things by giving away more than $1.4 billion in cash and in-kind donations over the past ten years. However, it is a little ironic that this announcement came the same day Altria hit a new record high. Let us know if your charity has received one of these Dear John letters from the company.

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