Businesses donated less money to the arts in Britain in 2010/11 but individuals gave more, helping overall private sector investment in the sector edge higher, figures released Tuesday showed.

Arts & Business, a charity which seeks to promote ties between commerce and culture, painted a mixed picture for the arts sector, which has had to cope with cuts in state funding as the government seeks to reduce the budget deficit.

The downward trend on business support for the arts remains our prime concern, said Philip Spedding, campaign director at Arts & Business.

However, we are beginning to see some in the arts discovering other productive ways to work alongside business, and our role remains to develop, sustain and celebrate these new ideas and models.

The report showed that business investment in 2010/11 fell to 134.2 million pounds versus 144.1 million in 2009/10. It was the fourth straight annual decline from a peak in 2006/7 of 171.5 million.

Overall, private sector investment in the arts rose to 686.6 million pounds, around four percent higher than in 2009/10.

The increase was partly due to individual philanthropy rising six percent to 382.2 million and giving by trusts and foundations growing 10 percent to 170.3 million pounds.

Culture minister Jeremy Hunt said: This confounds the critics who said it was a waste of time trying to boost philanthropic giving when times are tough.

According to the report, London accounted for 71 percent of all private investment in culture, underlining its domination of the arts sector. Heritage and museums brought in just over half of all private sector support.

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)