India/ 6. Financing of culture  

6.3. Trends and indicators for private cultural financing

Overall, there is a growth in independent foundations, and commercial sponsorships, but these are still small figures compared to the annual budget of the central Ministry of Culture or State government budgets in the broad areas of the creative economy.


Independent foundations

There are a growing number of independent foundations that do provide arts and culture funding. The best known, the India Foundation for the Arts (IFA), disbursed INR  1.98 crore[1] in the year 2010-11, in the following areas:


2010-11 (INR)

2009-10 (INR)

Arts research and documentation



Extending arts practice


1,706, 900

Arts education



Special grants



New performance






Other programme costs






Prakriti Foundation, Chennai supports music concerts, seminars, multi-media events, experimental cinema and theatre festivals. It organises the ‘The New Festival’ - with sponsorship from the Park Group of Hotels - that showcases new and emerging work in the field of dance, music and theatre. It has also recently established the Prakriti Excellence in Contemporary Dance Awards (PECDA) for emerging artists in the field of contemporary dance.

Seagull Foundation for the Arts, Kolkata supports activity in fine arts, theatre and cinema, promoting collaborative and experimental arts activity. It has a highly acclaimed programme of publishing in the arts, culture and media.

The Creative India Foundation, Hyderabad is in the process of establishing a sculpture park and commissions both national and international artists to create sculptures. Apart from a residency programme the Foundation funds sculptors to attend residencies and participate in international exhibitions. 

The Mohile Parikh Center (MPC), Mumbai was founded in 1990 and organises lectures, panel discussions, audio-visual presentations, seminars, workshops, courses, public art projects and international conferences. The Centre’s publications arm has published a series of monographs, books, and posters related to its programmes. In 1997, the MPC established the Architecture Forum, and in 2008, started the Children & Culture project, a new education model to reach out to marginalised and disadvantaged communities.

The Raza Arts Foundation, New Delhi set up by the eminent artist S.H. Raza in 2001, attempts to promote, and honour young artists from visual, performing and literary fields. It has been exclusively funded by Raza from his own income. Besides giving awards of INR 100,000 each to 2 visual artists, 1 poet, 1 musician and 1 dancer annually, the Foundation has supported a variety of creative projects, including publication of catalogues, books, journals, multi-disciplinary art camps, seminars on music and important visual artists, critical dialogues and discussion on the arts.

Toto Funds for the Arts, Bangalore encourages young artists in India through awards, workshops and other events in the fields of music, writing, photography and drama.

Corporate Foundations

The Infosys Foundation supports arts initiatives such as revival of arts forms, support and financial assistance to artists from the rural areas, publishes the works of lesser known authors, sponsors international and national theatre troupes performing in India, funds the restoration of built heritage and sponsors documentaries on the arts.

Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and the Allied Trusts disbursed INR 6.46 crore (USD 12.9 million) during the financial year 2010-11 for nine projects ranging from ‘promoting art scholarships and building archival facilities; protecting and conserving India’s cultural heritage and dying art forms; supporting research and development activities of the art and supporting development-media projects’[1].They collectively disbursed INR 329.839 crore (USD 65.97million).

The Sir Ratan Tata Trust disbursedINR 1.34 crore (USD  0.02 million) for ten programmes related to the arts and culture (1% of the total disbursal of INR 1,687.09 crore or USD 33.7 million) in the financial year 2010-11[2].

The JSW Foundation is involved in heritage conservation. It facilitated the creation of the Friends of Sir J. J. School of Arts Trust[3] that restored the exterior of the Fine Arts building. Resources for this exercise were mobilised from the Member of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) fund. The Foundation is presently documenting and restoring an invaluable collection of paintings, sculptures and other artifacts and establishing an art museum at the campus in collaboration with the Maharashtra government.

The Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art (FICA) set up with the support of the Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi supports educational activities, research, practicing artists and public art projects. They offer an Emerging Artists Award, and have hosted writing workshops for aspiring art historians and critics.

The Reliance Foundation provides financial support to artists across various fields. It funds issues in the area of local governance, disaster management, heritage conversation and technological initiatives in the protection of language, literature, architecture and music.

Commercial sponsors

Commercial sponsorship for the arts and culture in India is growing with corporates providing direct financial support as well as indirect support mainly drawn from their marketing and advertising budgets.

Support for cultural organisations:

  • Hutch/Vodafone supported Rangashankara, Bangalore and Prithvi Theatre, Mumbai
  • Britannia sponsors AHA! The children’s theatre programme at Rangashankara

Some corporate have constituted their own awards in the arts, such as:

  • Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Award, Mahindra Group
  • Skoda Art Prize for Indian Contemporary Art, Skoda Auto
  • Times of India Film Awards (TOIFA), The Times of India Group

Event sponsorship

  • India Art Fair: Yes Bank
  • Jaipur Literature Festival: DSC (Infra), Airtel (Cellular), Google, Tata Steel, Coca Cola.
  • Kochi Muziris Biennale, 2012: DLF (Infra), BMW (Auto), Indi-Go (Airlines), Google, Royal Enfield
  • Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, Mumbai: The Times of India Group
  • The New Festival: The Park Group of Hotels

There is an increasing trend of media companies organising their own festivals. Some of these are listed below:

  • Deccan Herald Theatre Festival - The Deccan Herald
  • Jagran Film Festival -Dainik Jagran
  • The Hindu Lit for Life - The Hindu Group
  • The Hindu Metro Plus Theatre Fest- The Hindu Group
  • The Times of India Festival - The Times of India Group

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives

Initiatives under CSR by companies are increasing although most of them do not support arts and culture activities. Arts initiatives are always linked to larger socio-economic projects such as education or health awareness, etc. The Indian parliament has passed the Companies Bill, 2012 making CSR spend mandatory for companies that have a net worth of INR 500 crore (USD 100 million) or more, or turnover of INR 1000 crore (USD 200 million )or more or a net profit of INR 5 crore (USD 1 million) or more in a financial year. Many arts organisations lobbied to have art as a main category hoping that such a categorisation will help create a greater momentum around arts funding. However arts did not find mention in the main categories, which are poverty alleviation, healthcare, education and social business ventures. However, the bill does not restrict companies from spending on the arts. It contains provisions that allow for companies to spend on arts activities and other related activities so long as they adhere to all the CSR spending norms that the bill stipulates.

Individual donors and patrons

There are a small number of individual donors, who either on their own or through private foundations not primarily dedicated to the arts have supported culture. Nandan and Rohini Nilekani, Kiran Nadar (Shiv Nadar Foundation), Tina Ambani (Harmony Art Foundation), Rajashree Pathy (Coimbatore Centre for Contemporary Arts) and a few others have supported the arts.



[3] Sir J. J. School of Arts is one of India’s leading fine arts universities and is based in Mumbai.

[1] INR 1 crore = INR 10 million; 1 USD is approximately equal to INR 50.


Chapter published: 22-04-2014