Arts Funding Issue of The Reader Includes Four Informative Articles on Public Funding, Foundation Support, and More

Feb 24, 2012

Grantmakers in the Arts’ excellent journal, The Reader, published an issue devoted to arts funding in late 2011. The arts funding issue, available as a PDF, includes four articles:
1. Foundation Grants to Arts and Culture, 2009: A One-year Snapshot

Steven Lawrence and Reina Mukai
Key findings include:
Foundation funding for arts and culture decreased faster than overall giving in 2009. Arts funding to nonprofit arts organizations declined 21 percent between 2008 and 2009, compared to a 14.2 percent reduction in overall giving by the same set of 502 foundations.
Relative to other fields, a larger share of arts grant dollars provided operating support. In 2009, general operating support accounted for 35 percent of arts and culture grant dollars, by far the largest share compared to other major funding areas. By comparison, just 13 percent of arts grant dollars in 1989 provided operating support.
Corporate foundations represent an important source of support for arts and culture – 14.4% of foundation giving to the arts in 2009.
There is a section on grants by arts subfield, with graphs and narratives including such information as:
“From the start of the 1980s until 1997,
the performing arts consistently received more foundation support than museums. However, museums have surpassed the performing arts by share in several recent years (1998, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2005, and 2008). More study would be needed to adequately understand the underlying reasons for the shifts in share between these two fields of activity…”
The Twenty-five largest arts funders [LucasFilms is #2]
2. Public Funding for the Arts: 2011 Update
Kelly Barsdate
This piece provides a very good overview of public funding for the arts, including the unique trend lines in federal, state, and local municipal government funding. A sample finding is the precipitous decline in local government funding for the arts, dropping 20% between 2008 and 2011. Barsdate also provides a thoughtful, concise future outlook on public funding for the arts.
3. State Arts Agencies in the FY2012 Legislative Session: Challenges, Headlines, What’s Working

Jonathan Katz, Ph.D.
This well-written article includes five mini profiles of state arts agency budget challenges, citing the role of advocacy throughout. From “relentless contact with public official” to rounding out arguments in support of the arts, there are lessons new and old to be gleaned.
One role of advocacy given particular attention in the piece is the essential function of educating new elected officials. Katz states, Some of the largest SAA cuts are taking place where many of the decision makers are new to their tasks. More than 1,600 new legislators and twenty- nine new governors took office this year. Newly elected officials require contact and orientation to make informed decisions — and to understand the arts as a constituency with political clout that can work for or against them.”
Katz’s role leading NASAA is apparent in his remarks about the need for the statewide arts advocacy group to be closely aligned with the state arts agency, asserting, “When the advocacy group diverges from SAA priorities, or when the group is under- resourced, expectations of public funding should be limited.” In the ever-changing arts landscape, some would question this assertion.
Katz closes by posing a number of questions, including: “What research would be of greatest assistance to those who advocate on behalf of public funding for the arts in the current environment?”
4. How Are Private Funders Responding to Cuts in Public Funding?

Alexis Frasz and Holly Sidford
The authors, both private funders, state in clear terms:
Many private funding sources — foundations, corporations, and individuals — look for evidence of public funding as a prerequisite for their own grants. If they have not received public funds, cultural groups may be excluded from other sources of support.
Thus follows a disconcerting but important commentary on the decline in public support for the arts. The article reports on findings from a survey of GIA members, which yielded 77 responses. Less than half of the respondents—43%--reported adjusting their grantmaking approach in light of reduced public funding for the arts.
The piece concludes with recommendations to private funders, including an exciting one about advocacy:
Participate in making the case for the public value of the arts. In what ways can private funders contribute to making the argument that the arts are a necessity rather than an amenity?
 Image: Athena, Robert Winter, 1537. From Wikimedia Commons and in the public domain.

Tags: The Reader, arts advocacy, arts funding, funding, public funding, foundations

Sub Categories

ADVOCACY: Resources & Links
ADVOCACY: NEA / Public Funding for the Arts