Support M with a project of your choice: it is possible thanks to the museum fund M-LIFE. Lydia Vandam, coordinator of M-LIFE, explains why such a fund is significant and why your donation is so welcome. Especially now that corona has hit the cultural sector so hard.
Every gift helps us to do even better Lydia Vandam, coordinator M-LIFE
“M-LIFE was created in 2016. Several people had already asked us how they could support M. We also received occasional gifts, but we wanted to get a better idea of what we received. At the same time, we wanted to be able to tell the outside world what we were going to do with those gifts. We think it’s important to be transparent on that score.”
“We then set up a fund within the King Baudouin Foundation: M-LIFE. It is controlled by an independent board: they make sure that all donations go directly to M and to the project chosen by the donor. The King Baudouin Foundation also issues tax certificates – starting at 40 euros, you are entitled to them.”
What actually happens with that money?
“M-LIFE gives financial support to M projects with a high social or public value. People can choose for themselves which project they want to support. There are four types.”
“In the first place, you have projects related to the M-collection, the restorations and all the scientific research surrounding them. Supporting such a project helps to research, maintain and make the city’s heritage accessible to the public.”
“Then there is our public outreach – for children, but also for adults from diverse backgrounds. For them there are projects that try to give people more resilience and empowerment through art.”
“People can also support the work of young artists directly. We want to give talented artists from Leuven and the surrounding area the opportunity to develop themselves further. Together with M, they ensure that Leuven becomes an artistic city. We offer content support, provide studio space in Cas-co, and we organise a show.”
“And finally, people can also support the general operation of M-LIFE. These donations go to projects that need the money the most at that moment.”
“Thanks to the resources we collect through M-LIFE, we can give extra oxygen to those projects at M that we find important, and that are important for society as well.”
“That support can make a huge difference. We noticed this last year with the exhibition ‘Borman and Sons’. Thanks to the 100,000 euros in donations from M-LIFE via the M-art patron operation, we were able to bring additional loans to Leuven. This is not cheap, especially because of insurance costs.”
“Another example, from our public outreach program: thanks to M-LIFE, we were able to offer a week of workshops to participants in the Dobedo project. In the Dobedo workshops, children could search for their identity and mental strength through art. Together with a tutor and their teacher, the worked creatively on themes such as feelings and desires.”
“But M-LIFE is more than just a financial instrument. We can realise projects that would not otherwise be possible; we set up valuable new collaborations; we offer a glimpse behind the scenes … This is how we connect people – visitors, residents of Leuven, friends, partners, experts – with the museum.”
How important are donations to M?
“M is financed by both public and private means. The subsidies can be seen as the fixed income, which ensures that we can continue to exist. But thanks to the donations, we can do what we do even better. Although there is still some margin for growth. To make a comparison: in 2017, 2.4 million euros were donated to cultural projects throughout Belgium; in the Netherlands, it was 14.4 million. But I think that’s a chicken-and-egg story. We know that people find art important, but often they are simply never asked to support it. So there you have it (laughs).”
Corona has also turned the museum world upside down. What were the consequences for M-LIFE?
“M quickly decided to make a digital program available free of charge, as did many other cultural institutions, by the way. And we have noticed that people are grateful for this and want to lend us a helping hand. In a very concrete way: people who booked a time slot to visit M often gave us a donation right away. In the first two months after the lockdown, at least 500 people did so – another big thank you for that.”
“Now that we’re a few months further on, the urgency seems to have disappeared a bit. But it is still very important that people continue to support us.”
If we may dream for a moment: What would you still like to achieve with M-LIFE?
“Hmmm! (laughs). I hope that thanks to M-LIFE, people know about all the things M does in addition to the exhibitions we organise. I’m thinking about the children’s hospital project, where we offer art workshops for patients in the children’s hospital UZ Leuven. About 'The Art Bridge', a project to stimulate the emotional skills of children and young people. About the support we give young artists, about the extensive research our scholars conduct here … That’s my dream: that people can continue to get to know that side of M, and that we can continue to set up projects like these together with our visitors.”
At m-life.be you will find all current projects and realisations. You can also make a donation directly: from 40 euros, you will receive a tax certificate. Due to the corona crisis, the government has decided to increase the tax deductibility from 45% to 60% by 2020. This regulation applies retroactively to all donations made since January 2020.