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Last Updated: Monday, 1 March, 2004, 18:06 GMT
Roman patron inspires donor drive
Colin Tweedy and friends
Arts and Business is running a poll to find the greatest arts patron
A Roman patron of letters has inspired a new initiative to boost individual donations to the arts by 140 million.

The Maecenas initiative is named after Gaius Maecenas, whose support of poets like Virgil and Horace has made him a symbol of all patronage of the arts.

The Arts and Business organisation will reward donors with a lapel pin bearing the head of the Roman philanthropist.

The scheme hopes to increase individual giving to the arts from 236 million to 380 million over three years.

"The idea of Maecenas is to make people proud of giving to the arts, to make them boast about it, to make them feel loved and valued in return," Colin Tweedy, chief executive of Arts and Business, told The Guardian newspaper.

Only 3.4 per cent of individual giving goes to the arts in the UK, as opposed to 5.7 per cent in the US.

An Arts and Business spokesman told BBC News Online that there would be a "loose criteria" over the amount of money required to obtain the Maecenas pin.

'Giving is enriching'

However, he revealed that individual donors who gave over 100,000 would receive a "bolder" version.

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell has supported the initiative.

"Philanthropy brings real benefits to arts organisations," she said, adding that "giving to the arts... is also enriching for the giver."

Part of the scheme will provide training kits and seminars instructing smaller arts organisations how to boost their income from individual donors.

Arts and Business is also running a vote to see who is the greatest Maecenas of all time, with candidates including Lorenzo di Medici, Prince John D Rockefeller and Charles Saatchi.

The scheme follows a recent Treasury report recommending tax breaks to stop art works like Raphael's The Madonna of the Pinks being sold abroad.

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