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(g) the advancement of the arts, heritage, culture or science

Published: 20/08/2015
Updated: 20/08/2015

Summary

This section covers four purposes which we describe separately, though in practice they may overlap:

Advancement of the Arts: this can cover a wide range of imaginative, creative and expressive activities.

Advancement of Heritage: this can cover a country’s local or national history and traditions, and the preservation of historic land and buildings.

Advancement of Culture: focuses on the identification, preservation or celebration of the distinctive character of a society, or group within a society.

Advancement of Science: covers a range of scientific and technological subjects including academic disciplines, research, exploration, practical experimentation and scientific debate.

Although they are linked in the 2005 Act, a charity does not need to advance all four of them to have this charitable purpose. For example, a charity may only advance science.

What do we mean by advancing the arts?

Art can take many forms:

  • visual arts - painting, sculpture, photography, video and film
  • performing arts- music, singing, dance, drama and storytelling
  • written arts - literature, poetry, creative writing and composition
  • design arts - graphics, fashion and architecture.

A charity might advance the arts at local, national or international level through both amateur and professional art.

Art can be a medium for advancing other charitable purposes. Where an organisation uses art as a means of achieving another purpose, for example advancing health through art therapy, we will not usually see this as advancing the arts as well.

What activities might provide public benefit when advancing this purpose?

In general, public benefit is the way that a charity makes a positive difference to the public. Activities might include:

  • increasing public exposure to, appreciation of, or involvement in the arts
  • reaching out to new audiences
  • providing opportunities for participation by people who might otherwise be excluded
  • improving facilities and venues where art is produced, displayed or performed
  • encouraging high standards by raising artistic skills and nurturing talent.

Artistic merit is a matter of opinion and applies to art that has popular appeal as well as art that is only of interest to a minority of people.

To provide public benefit the art must be enlightening, inspiring, or of value to the public. Where artistic merit is not immediately obvious we may seek expert evidence to verify its value. This doesn’t mean that art cannot amuse or entertain; but when we decide if it is charitable, the ability of art to stimulate thought or discussion is important.

 When advancing art, benefit may be to the wider public and to artists themselves. By training artists, charities can help to sustain a pool of artistic talent, which contributes to the cultural life of the nation. While artists or arts businesses might gain private benefit from a charity advancing the arts, this cannot be the primary purpose. 


What do we mean by advancing heritage?

The advancement of heritage can cover a country’s local or national history and traditions, and the preservation of historic land and buildings.

What activities might provide public benefit when advancing this purpose?

In general, public benefit is the way that a charity makes a positive difference to the public. Activities might include:

  • restoring and preserving historic buildings, monuments and sites of historic or architectural importance
  • collecting, cataloguing and displaying artefacts and records in museums and archives
  • preserving memories through oral or recorded history projects
  • running historical and archaeological societies
  • preserving historical traditions such as carnivals, festivals and re-enactments of historically significant events
  • promoting traditional crafts and skills.

When assessing public benefit, the extent to which the public has access to sites, buildings and collections will be an important factor, especially where heritage assets remain in private ownership. Benefit must be primarily to the public and any private benefit to individuals must be incidental.

Heritage assets must be worthy of preservation and display due to their aesthetic quality, educational value or historical significance and we would usually look to see evidence of this. For example, in the case of a building or monument we might look to see whether it has been ‘listed’ by a relevant organisation.


What do we mean by advancing culture?

In this context, culture means the defining features or characteristics of a particular society or section of a society, and includes:

  • history
  • language and literature
  • arts and crafts
  • music, singing and dance
  • food
  • fashion.

What activities might provide public benefit when advancing this purpose?

In general, public benefit is the way that a charity makes a positive difference to the public. Activities that preserve, commemorate, and celebrate these cultural features for public benefit can advance this charitable purpose. For example, cross-cultural exchanges, multi-cultural and ‘fusion’ events that aim to promote tolerance, understanding and interaction between people of different cultures may advance this charitable purpose.

What do we mean by advancing science?

The advancement of science covers a broad range of scientific and technological subjects including academic disciplines, research, exploration, practical experimentation and scientific debate. 

If the main aim is to advance the scientific knowledge and understanding of those taking part, the appropriate charitable purpose may be the advancement of education in science, rather than advancing science itself.

What activities might provide public benefit when advancing this purpose?

In general, public benefit is the way that a charity makes a positive difference to the public. Activities might include:

  • improving public understanding of scientific subjects
  • providing opportunities for the public to participate in scientific research, experimentation or expeditions
  • supporting and publishing research into scientific subjects that will bring practical benefits or improve conditions of life
  • stimulating scientific debate and applying it to the moral and ethical questions of the day
  • sharing of scientific knowledge through societies and institutions.

Research and development carried out to gain commercial advantage (private benefit) is unlikely to be charitable, even if the public may obtain some benefit from it later on.

Case 1:  an organisation showed how it promoted food culture and heritage in Scotland

Summary:
We received an application from an organisation that promotes healthy, sustainable and ecologically sound methods of food production. The advancement of the arts, heritage and culture was included as one of its charitable purposes.  

Considerations:
The organisation’s activities include maintaining a collection of seeds and varieties of heritage fruit, vegetables, grains and other plants traditional to Scottish agriculture and diet. It works to build skills in small scale food growing, production and cooking that is culturally appropriate and suited to the Scottish environment and climate. It also uses media such as drama, storytelling and music to explore the links between creative arts, food traditions and the natural environment.

Outcome:
The applicant made a persuasive case that there was a strong heritage of food production and diet in Scotland that was an expression of Scottish cultural identity and which helped to build sustainable communities of growers, producers and consumers. We were satisfied that the organisation’s activities were capable of advancing the arts, heritage and culture. The application to become a charity was successful.

Case 2: an organisation satisfied us that its activities advanced science for young people

Summary:
We received an application from a body that organised challenging and inspiring expeditions for young people to the Arctic. The organisation had a number of charitable purposes including the advancement of science.

Considerations:
While on the expeditions the young people participate in a range of scientific experiments and observations measuring the effects of climate change. The work is carried out on behalf of academic institutions and also private companies. In return, these bodies helped to fund the expeditions and contributed to the training of the young people.

Outcomes:
We were satisfied that the activities were capable of stimulating an interest in science among the young people. We were also satisfied that the findings of their experiments would be made publicly available and not used for private commercial advantage. The application to become a charity was successful with the advancement of science among its purposes.

Case 3: we decided that an organisations activities primarily supported existing businesses rather than advancing the arts  

Summary:
An application was received from an organisation that supported the development of entrepreneurs working in creative industries such as fashion, design, art and film-making. The applicant included the advancement of the arts, heritage and culture among its purposes.

Considerations:
The organisation assists creative entrepreneurs to develop their business skills through training and mentoring. For selected beneficiaries it also provides funding for them to develop and find markets for their products. We were concerned that the emphasis was on developing business acumen rather than artistic skills.  

Outcomes:
We did not consider that the provision of business support to help the creation of flourishing businesses was an activity capable of advancing the arts. While many of the businesses being supported operated in the art and design fields, we considered that any public benefit would be incidental to the primary activity of developing new businesses. We refused the application and this decision was confirmed following a request for review by the applicant.

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