The finest art patronage schemes around the world
2018-02-08By Sanchita Sivaraman

Superyachts and fine art have long had a strong connection with many yacht owners choosing to keep their impressive art collections on board. However, with public funding for the arts under threat, donations from private art lovers to support museums, galleries and the development of young artists has never been more critical. In response a number of art patronage schemes have been founded to share funds among various institutions and creative causes - here we select the finest from around the world to help you support your passion and gain access to some very exclusive art events...

Public Art Fund

Van Gogh's Ear 2016 by Elmgreen & Dragset, made from steel, fibreglass, stainless steel and lights. Photo courtesy of Public Art Fund, NY.

Fancy a dinner with Jeff Koons? Or perhaps a studio visit with Tony Oursler sounds more like your thing. These are the type of activities you'll enjoy after joining Public Art Fund’s premier patron group, Director’s Circle. Founded in 1977 by Doris C. Freedman, Public Art Fund is a non-profit organisation that brings contemporary art to a wide audience via grand installations in New York City’s public spaces. Enrolling in the Director’s Circle opens up many perks, such as exclusive access to artists, private collections viewings and attending select art fairs, while simultaneously providing the necessary resources to stage Public Art Fund’s exhibitions.

How to join: Dues for the Director’s Circle, per annum, are both $5,000 and $10,000 and can be paid using the Public Art Fund website.

Photographic Arts Council Los Angeles

PACLA offers curator-led walkthroughs at major museums, such as the LACMA. photo: Shutterstock

The Photographic Arts Council Los Angeles is a non-profit organisation run exclusively by volunteers. Through its numerous events and grant-giving programmes, namely its educational, institutional and artist grants, the Council aims to promote a deeper appreciation of fine art photography as a contemporary art form. As a member, you’ll experience an exciting roster of over 50 programmes a year, including access to private collections, visits with artists in their studio, photography focused travel, previews of gallery exhibitions and exclusive VIP passes to worldwide photography fairs.

How to join: Annual membership for two people costs $400 and can be purchased directly from the PACLA website. When the time comes to renew your membership, you’ll be able to get a hold of free guest passes – after all, the more, the merrier.

Art Fund

Art Partners provide crucial funding for the various aspects of Art Fund's work.

Art Fund has long been an advocate for bringing art to the masses. The UK-based charity was set up in 1903 with the intent to help museums and galleries procure works of art. Since then, it’s been known to provide acquisition grants for various cultural institutions, ensuring art stays within public reach. As an Art Partner, you can help promote the charity’s philanthropic efforts in a financial way. In return, Art Fund offers their Art Partners access to private viewings of key exhibitions and opportunities to meet artists in their studios.

How to join: A double membership for two people can be purchased from the Art Fund website and costs £2,500 annually. For the same price, you can also choose an option that allows you to bring guests to members' events.

The Cultivist

The Cultivist gives you instant access to exhibitions, like the Faurschou Foundation's Recent Acquisitions exhibition in Copenhagen, featuring artist Tracey Emin. Image courtesy of The Cultivist.

Whether a seasoned collector or curious newcomer, The Cultivist invites you to become a part of their exclusive art club. Founded by Marlies Verhoeven and Daisy Peat, former colleagues at Sotheby's, The Cultivist's members can expect tailor-made experiences in the global art world. A single membership card gives you swift entry to over 100 leading galleries and museums and to almost 40 art fairs worldwide. You will also be offered private exhibition viewings, invites to members-only events and artist studio visits as well as the opportunity to discover new art, as The Cultivist hopes to showcase more upcoming artists, providing them with the perfect platform to gain exposure. Although run as a commercial enterprise, Peat told Boat International that the club's philanthropic efforts are set to increase this year and that by joining you will be financially supporting the artists and institutions The Cultivist partners with.

How to join: The application process is split into two parts. First, you'll need to fill a form out on The Cultivist's website then you'll have a 15-minute phone call where you can talk about what you hope to get out of the club. Individual membership fees are £2,200 per annum.

Society for Contemporary Art

The Art Institute of Chicago established the Society for Contemporary Art in 1940. Image courtesy of Shutterstock/MaxyM.

The Society for Contemporary Art was established by the Art Institute of Chicago in 1940. By creating monthly programmes, which are made possible through membership contributions and tax-deductible donations, the Society hopes to foster a better understanding and admiration for the art of our time. Said programmes typically entail meeting leading artists, dealers, critics and historians, visits to private collections, travel with curators and entry to prominent art centres across the world. Becoming a benefactor allows you to support the Society in the best possible way, as it provides the financial aid necessary for enhancing the programmes available. What’s more, each year you’ll get to vote for one or more contemporary artworks from a selection of carefully reviewed pieces which will go on to become part of the museum’s permanent collection.

How to join: To become a benefactor you’ll need to create an account on the Society of Contemporary Art’s website. Once this is done, you can purchase your membership for £5,000, which covers two adults. All SCA members must be members of the Art Institute of Chicago as well.