In the wake of the proposed take over of Venkatappa Art Gallery – a public space – by a private foundation it might be worth revisiting the exchange between the artist Hans Haacke and the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu. I quote from their absolutely wonderful book Free Exchange:
PB: …private patronage may justify the abdication of public authorities, who use the pretext of the existence of private patrons to withdraw and suspend their assistance, with the extraordinary result that citizens still finance the arts and sciences through tax exemptions. Furthermore, they finance the symbolic effect brought to bear on them to the extent that the funding appears as an example of the disinterested generosity of the corporations.
HH: It is, in fact, the taxpayers who cover what corporations save through tax deductions on their ‘generous contributions’. In the end, we are the ones who wind up subsidizing the corporate propaganda. Seduction expenses not only serve the marketing of products….It is actually more important for the sponsors to create a favorable political climate for their interests, particularly when it comes to matters like taxes, labor and health regulations, ecological constraints, export rules etc.