Today the system still exists, sometimes even in its original form: but most often by far the new patrons are corporations and governments, the aim is for much more immediate bottom-line pay-off (in parallel with how much faster the clock seems to be running upon us all), and what is not seen to have any direct fiscal value (eg. most art) is humoured along only insofar as public relations coax out a supplemental profit. Pride of display and pride in encouragement of talent have been thrust out of their place by end results, the sooner/more likely the better. The payment structure itself has morphed into the world of the foundation and the grant, the application a series of flaming hoops so unnecessarily convoluted that an increasing number of research institutions hire -- indeed, have to hire, lest this work take even further away from the core research -- full-time grant writers and researchers, or outsource to a specialised firm, for the specific purpose of finding out what is available and then draughting all the proposals ... and yet the purpose here is the same as it has always been: to get the work being done to be seen by the potential patron.
Whether the funding is private or government, patronage has become a major business ... and are its protegés, the ones around whom the entire system is centred, any better off for the transformation? Are they able to be any more focussed upon their work, without those annoying distractions such as bill collectors or trying to figure out how to pay that month's rent? Are they any more independent of their new patron, be it government programme or private enterprise, than they have ever been?