"You've Cott Mail" is taking time off for the holidays and will return on Monday, January 3, 2011.  Happy New Year, everyone!


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To raise cash, London museums are renting out their spaces to 2012 Olympics  

From The Art Newspaper, December 23, 2010

Museums and heritage sites are leasing out space during the 2012 Olympics for national houses, including the Docklands Museum, Somerset House, Marble Arch, Old Billingsgate Market and Alexandra Palace. The two-month deals will typically each bring in several hundred thousand pounds.  National houses are set up during the Olympics to provide VIP entertainment space, a venue for events for medal-winners, media facilities and office accommodation. Only a handful of deals have been confirmed, but 30 or so countries are likely to set up luxurious camps in London.  Docklands Museum in East London, part of the Museum of London, where the major games events will be held, is the first national house to be arranged and will become the German Haus. The museum will remain open to visitors, but the converted sugar warehouse is large enough to lease considerable space. In addition to the cash rent, the German National Olympic Committee will fund improvements to the building, providing a lasting legacy.   Somerset House is to become Casa Brazil. The courtyard level will remain open to the public but the whole of the 18th-century piano nobile, which overlooks the River Thames, will be taken over. The Embankment Galleries will host an exhibition on Brazilian design. The courtyard will be the venue for a spectacular party at the end of the London Olympics, when Brazil takes over as host for the Rio games in 2016.


EU commission rules, for tax purposes, that light sculptures are not works of art

From The Guardian, December 20, 2010

When the lights were switched on at a Dan Flavin retrospective at the Hayward Gallery in London in 2006, critics were entranced.  But the European commission has taken a less poetic view -- ruling the work should be classified for tax purposes as simple light fixtures. The ruling overturns an earlier UK customs tribunal verdict, and was denounced by one lawyer specialising in arts cases as "extraordinary".  This is no mere academic view. It means Flavin works imported by any museum or gallery from outside the EU are liable to full VAT, which rises to 20% on 1 January. As sculpture the pieces would be subject to only 5% VAT.  The ruling also affects the work of Bill Viola, another American, who became the first living artist to have a major exhibition at the National Gallery in London, and whose video pieces moved many viewers to tears.  Not the commission, which found: "It is not the installation that constitutes a 'work of art' but the result of the operations (the light effect) carried out by it."  St Paul's cathedral could be among the first victims of the ruling. It has commissioned two altar pieces from Viola, due to be unveiled next year, which could become dramatically more expensive


New US law extends tax benefits through 2011 for older donors to nonprofits

Posted by Jonathan Gudema, Esq. on, December 22, 2010

Among the multitude of items included in the Tax Relief Act, signed into law by President Obama on December 17th, was an extension of the Charitable IRA Rollover provision through the end of 2011.  The tax provision offers nonprofit organizations a wonderful opportunity to engage with donors between now and the end of the calendar year.  Individuals age 70 and older may request direct transfers of funds from IRAs to qualified public charities without income tax on gifted funds.  There are several important points that charities and donors interested in this provision must be aware of:

         The funds must be directly transferred from IRA accounts to the charities.

         Each individual is entitled to make a total of $100,000 in gifts to charities.

         2010 IRA rollover gifts can be made through Jan 31, 2011.

         These contributions do not qualify for an additional charitable income tax deduction as not being taxed on the withdrawal is worth even more than a standard charitable deduction.

         401(k), 403(b), SEP, KEOGH, SIMPLE IRA plans cannot be used to make a rollover gift.

         Donors of IRA rollover gifts must receive no personal benefits from this gift.


In Australia, a proposal to 'out' the wealthy who don't give enough to charity

From the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Dec 22, 2010 [hat tip to The Nonprofit Quarterly]

Christmas is a time for giving but Australian businessman Dick Smith thinks the wealthy in this country could give a lot more.  Our richest citizens donate around 1% of their wealth to charity, Smith points out, citing a report from The Petre Foundation called Good Times and Philanthropy, whereas in the US, it is more like 15%.  "It's just greed," he suggests, "what they'll say is 'we don't do it publicly', but I find the ones who say they don't do it publicly in fact hardly give anything away.  Take away their passports," he half jokes, "if I was dictator, I'd say, if you're going to be wealthy, there's an absolute obligation that you're a philanthropist, you don't do it secretly and if you don't give a decent amount away, we don't want you in this country or we'll take your passport away so you can't travel.  I reckon it's at least 20% of your income or, if you're a billionaire, I like the idea of Bill Gates saying 50%."  To encourage generous donations made without anonymity, he wants the BRW Rich List to include philanthropy statistics in their list as a sort of public outing and to encourage competitiveness on that front.

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