How important is cultural philanthropy, given that there are more pressing social issues to support?
The Peak team shares their perspective.
by The Peak Singapore /
May 16, 2019
One can’t eat a restored cathedral, that’s true, but if we were to address all social and environmental ills before we pay attention to the arts, how culturally arid society would be. The arts lifts the spirit, gives it sustenance, often for little or no money. But it needs to exist in the first place.
Jennifer Chen Editor
Denise Kok Associate Editor
Is a humanitarian crisis more deserving of hundred-million-dollar donations than a historical monument that went down in flames? Perhaps. Do philanthropists have to defend their decision to support one cause over another? No. The act of giving is personal and the giver is free to elect their beneficiary.
Not saying that Notre Dame shouldn’t be eventually rebuilt, but part of the hundreds of millions in euros so readily given could have been channelled towards more humanitarian causes, even before the fire.
It’s easy to react emotionally to tragedy, but changing statistics is the real challenge.
Both are equally important: while I found it a bit over-the-top that France’s richest pledged hundreds of millions to the restoration of the fire-damaged Notre Dame within two days, it would be nice to see some of that regard for our cultural history – not just sparkling new edifices – here on our shores.
Adeline Wong Sub-Editor
Ideally, funds should be channelled towards urgent causes, but the most urgent cause is often the most heart-stopping image. Heritage monuments need funding, but the overwhelming amount of euros pledged singularly to Notre Dame is seemingly ignorant of the plight of other historical buildings there requiring restoration – what more the poor and needy. Philanthropy is a choice, with very unequal results.