Reactor

The Inequality in US Arts Funding

by Hrag Vartanian on October 11, 2011

The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy has published a report that spotlights arts funding and has this to say:

Each year, foundations award about $2.3 billion to the arts, but the distribution of these funds does not reflect the country’s evolving cultural landscape and changing demographics.

You mean all the funding that opera gets in the US isn’t reflecting popular interest in the field? SHOCKER!

In a report authored by Holly Sidford and titled, “Fusing Arts, Culture and Social Change: High Impact Strategies for Philanthrophy,” she had this to say in the Executive Summary:

… the majority of arts funding supports large organizations with budgets greater than $5 million. Such organizations, which comprise less than 2 percent of the universe of arts and cultural nonprofits, receive more than half of the sector’s total revenue. These institutions focus primarily on Western European art forms, and their programs serve audiences that are predominantly white and upper income. Only 10 percent of grant dollars made with a primary or secondary purpose of supporting the arts explicitly benefit underserved communities, including lower-income populations, communities of color and other disadvantaged groups. And less than 4 perfect focus on advancing social justice goals.

The bigger question here is if the public is going to fund the arts, who should it serve and who gets to decide?

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