"Righting" the right of cultural sponsorship with a special reference to museums
Anthony Maniatis, Adjunct Assistant Professor of the Department of Museology, Museography and Exhibition Planning of the Technological Educational Institute of Patras, Lawyer - Patty Kapralou, L.L.M., Lawyer

I. Introduction: Greek legislation on cultural sponsorship

Civilization environment includes the residential civilization goods, such as districts and towns. It comprises also the cultural heritage, to which paragraph 6 of article 24 of the Greek Constitution refers [1]. L. 3525/2007 recognizes and regulates an ancient Greek mechanism of financing cultural activities, so it institutionalizes a part of autochthonous immaterial heritage. It is about the “function”, according the ancient term in use, of sponsorship. The work hypothesis of the present study is that this law is a modern legal tool for the development of sponsorship towards museums and other cultural entities, needing enhancement.

II. Conceptual and Theoretical Framework on cultural sponsorship contracts

Definitions of sponsorship vary and the practice has been described as “an investment in cash or in kind activity, in return for access to the exploitable commercial potential associated with that activity’’[2]. Sponsorship of sport is now very big business and as the value of rights fees inflates, companies are increasingly eager to achieve a return on their investment particularly in the economic downturn. Companies have to ensure that the sponsorship is a congruent fit with the sponsee, that objectives are realistic and clear, and that the sponsorship is re-evaluated over its life span. Finally, it is more important than ever to evaluate and manage risk and to ensure that legal protection is in place from the outset [3].
L. 3525/2007 defines cultural sponsorship as a pecuniary or non-pecuniary economic benefit consisting in kind, immaterial goods or services, for the enhancement of concrete cultural activities or purposes of the sponsee.
Sponsors’ motive is to strengthen their corporate image through the identity of social responsibility. Besides this moral recognition, they may also take a profit from the consequent tax exemption. The tax-free practice is in use in most countries of the European Union and of North America and allows to big carriers of cultural goods and activities to back up their mission.
Sponsors are defined as physical or legal persons, regulated by private law, proceeding to cultural sponsorship.
This function has not been institutionalized as an informal contract but as a written one, producing mutual obligations for the contracting parties. Indeed, on the one hand, the sponsor is supposed to give money, services, materials or immaterial goods to the recipient in order to back up a concrete cultural purpose or activity. On the other hand, the sponsee is supposed to notify publicly the sponsor’s offer. Anyway, the sponsor acquires no right to interfere into the form or the content of the activity on the matter, in virtue of the principle of the independence of the producer involved. Thanks to this incompatibility, the recipient remains the unique responsible for his policy, which is not altered by thirds.
L. 3525/2007 classifies sponsors in the following categories, on the basis of financial criteria: a. Great Sponsor, b. Sponsor, c. Supporter, d. Friend.
Besides, the term “museum” in ancient Greece signified the temple of Muses and, at extension, the place for (cultural) activities being under the Muses’ protection. According to L. 3028/2002 on the basis of the relevant definition of the International Council of Museums Statutes, the museum is defined as a service or an organism of non-lucrative character, which may have its own legal personality, that acquires, accepts, guards, maintains, writes down, evidences, researches, interprets and mainly exhibits and appears to public collections of archaeological, artistic, ethnological or other material testimonies of humanity and of its environment, for the purposes of study, education and enjoyment [4].

III. Literature Review on cultural sponsorship law

The topic of the law success or dysfunctions for cultural sponsorship has not received considerable research attention. This lack of in-depth analysis may be partly attributed to the fact that some countries have recently adopted the relevant legislation. France, contrarily to other countries, such as U.S.A. and United Kingdom, ignored for a long time the private sponsorship and institutionalized it very recently, let alone in a relevant “shy” way [5].
The number of sponsors supporting the state museums inflates in Greece as carriers which really want to back up these services offer money not to the Sponsorships Bureau but to the Friends Association of the museum involved. Alternatively, they prefer to pay directly either for the tariffs of an exhibition or for the edition of a timetable promoting the museum. This practice, confirmed by the competent managers, is indicative of the grade of failure of the sponsorship model [6].
Anyway, the legislation is more widely insufficient, as the case of Dionysus theatre indicates. According to the aforementioned prevision of L. 3527/2007, public careers seem excluded from the sponsors’ status, even if it is about of self-administrated entities like municipalities. In 2009, the Prefecture Council of Athens decided unanimously to offer 6.000.000 Euros for the rehabilitation of the ancient theatre of Dionysus. In that archetype architectural work near the Acropolis of Athens, the three top tragic poets (Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides), Aristophanes and more others represented for the first time their works. The Prefecture has been the first public career, besides the State, to support financially the protection of monuments. This initiative, which is by definition kept outside the legal framework of sponsorship, has a double positive impact: this entity of Local Self-administration, on the one hand, contributes to the upgrade of the theatre and, on the other hand, liberalizes the State, which is supposed to take also care of other elements of cultural heritage thanks to the correspondent economisation of assets. Theoretically, the formulation of the law does not exclude the sponsorship coming from public legal persons of private law. However, this possibility does not seem particularly likely, at least for those entities which are not commercial enterprises and, as a result, have limited assets. To sum up, this category of entities of the public sector is rather in need of sponsorship itself instead of financing any other entities. For instance, the National Opera was a public law legal person which became, like other similar state entities, a private law legal person in virtue of L. 2273/1994. Because of the current economic crisis, it has to face a serious lack of assets coming from sponsorship and aims at establishing a “Fundraising Department” according to the international standards, in search of sponsors, particularly of foreign ones. One of the various reasons of the decrease in private financing consists in a regulation introduced by L. 3842/2010. Tax exemptions of donations to cultural public entities, such as the National Opera and the National Theatre, cover no more the total but only 20% of the donated object.
Besides, the last two titles of the aforementioned classification of sponsors have been considered as rather problematic provided that sponsors, in the terms of the relevant law, paradoxically are not called “sponsors”. This remark is enhanced by the fact that theses authentic sponsors are not endowed with another name of the same ancient background, such as “function” etc [7]. However, the possible so-called “friend”, granting a sum of money from 1.000 up to 5.000 Euros according to the legislative standards, may use another method of back, by financing the Friends Association of the museum involved, as it has been indicated. So, the inferior sponsors’ “lock-out” in law has often been counterbalanced by the “lock-out” of the entire relevant legislation in practice…

If in Greece sponsorship legislation is not systematically connected with the museums one, the French legal order is conducive to a great success on the matter. Indeed, many big exhibitions take profit of the back of companies enacting the role of sponsors and about thirty pieces of major value have been bought thanks to them and remain therefore in France. This development has been feasible through the dispositions of L. 2002-5, on the museums, for the first time certified as “Museums of France’’, as well as of L. 2003-709, on sponsorship. These modern laws allow nowadays the individuals and the enterprises to have various possibilities of acting in favour of both the current creation and the heritage in arts [8].

IV Discussion of the above findings: “Righting’’ the right of sponsorship

Capitalism has the tendency of taking profit of private finance initiative in cultural projects, although this tendency in delay has been institutionalized in countries which are famous for their heritage and museums, such as Greece and France respectively. To date, this mechanism being beneficial to individuals and to enterprises mainly for tax reasons, paradoxically has been insufficiently known, and not always well recognized, at least in these two countries [9]. As a general principle, new rules of law are likely to need enhancement, according to the data coming from their application. According to the above analysis, various empirical and comparative data are indicative of the recommendable changes on the relevant Greek legislation. The literature findings have confirmed, to a great extent, the work hypothesis of the present study. Greek Cultural Law causes criticisms as museums are not submitted to an obligatory procedure of certification of their status and potential sponsors are not quite encouraged to back them up. Among other possible changes already implied, it is to pay special attention to the fact that the legislator should preview that potential sponsees, such as museums, are supposed to encourage enterprises and individuals to become their own sponsors. Indeed, public opinion has poor knowledge on the matter, let alone the fact that titles like “friends” and “supporters” may disorientate potential sponsors. Even the legal persons of the public sector, particularly the self-governed ones, should be officially entitled and encouraged to act as sponsors.

V. Conclusion: A “sponsorship” to Cultural Law with a special reference to museums

It is highly recommendable to introduce rules into the law, as a counterbalance of the serious dysfunctions of capitalism on the sensitive field of cultural goods. This position is exemplified by the suggested abolition of the restrictions imposed on tax donations towards cultural entities as well as by the introduction of an original rule making an explicit reference to sponsorship of activities such as projects of unearthing localized immobile monuments. Furthermore, cultural sponsorship should be recognized as a function comparable with the functions “market” and “allocution”. It is to underline that these three notions are even etymologically - in Greek - relative one another. In this context, museums should enact the role of accomplishing the full function of archetype “market”, in the sense of buying as well as of allocution and in combination with sponsorship on the activities of the museums themselves.
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Sponsorship is a fine function, which deserves to be accomplished by anyone interested, let alone by the friends of museums, in a democratic regime.


[1] A. Maniatis, Post-modernum,1/06/2008,
[2] S. Fabien, Report for Sport Sponsorship & the Law, 2010,
[3] S. Fabien, Report for Sport Sponsorship & the Law, 2010,
See also:
G. Filis and G. Spais, Stock market reaction on official football club sponsorship announcement using event-study method: The case of Juventus FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC stockholders' behaviour, Proceedings of the 1st Biannual International Conference on Strategic Developments in Services Marketing by University of the Aegean and University of Glasgow, 2007 Vol. 1,
G. Spais and G. Filis, Measuring stock market reaction to sponsorship announcements: The case of Fiat and Juventus, Journal of Targeting Measurement and Analysis for Marketing, 2008, 16 (3), p. 169 – 180.
G. Spais and G. Filis, Stock market reaction on Olympic sponsorship announcement using event-study method, Journal of Korean Academy of Marketing Science, 2006 16 (2), p. 95 – 108,
[4] A. Maniatis, Archaeological research on the field and Museums. Supplementary Education in Cultural Law, Ant. N. Sakkoulas Publishers Athens – Komotini 2010 (in Greek), p. 107 f., See particularly the multilingual table in p. 273.
[5] E. Mirieu de Labarre, Droit du patrimoine architectural, Lexis Nexis Litec Paris 2006, p. 295 f.
[6] A. Maniatis, Fundamental Rights and Architectural Heritage. Contribution to Administrative Law, Ant. N. Sakkoulas Publishers Athens – Komotini 2010 (in Greek), p. 344.
[7] A. Maniatis, Fundamental Rights and Architectural Heritage. Contribution to Administrative Law, Ant. N. Sakkoulas Publishers Athens – Komotini 2010 (in Greek), p. 107.
[8] F. Chatelain, P. Taugourdeau, Œuvres d’art et objets de collection en droit français, LexisNexis 2011, p. 190 f..
[9] F. Debiesse, Le Mécénat, Que sais-je?, PUF Paris 2007, p. 23, See also G. de Brebisson, Le mécénat, Que sais-je?, PUF Paris 1993.