Giving Time & Treasure to the Arts Makes All the Difference

Posted by Megan Bell On October - 24 - 2014
Jordan Shue

Jordan Shue

Megan Bell

Megan Bell

Throughout the blog salon this week during National Arts and Humanities Month (and Pro Bono Week!), we hope these posts have demonstrated the value of giving your time and treasure to the arts. Whether you are an individual philanthropist, business volunteer, young patron, emerging art leader, or corporate sponsor, your contributions strengthen the arts across America.

As we saw this week, there are many ways to support the arts. We can encourage younger patrons to support the arts now and in future generations, engage the community in unique ways to raise awareness of the arts, donate time and volunteer skills to further the missions of individual arts organizations in your community, join the push for tax policy that favors the arts, recruit new supporters of the arts through workplace engagement and giving campaigns, and above all, become a passionate ambassador for such an important cause.

Volunteering your time provides capabilities and experiences that many organizations may not have the resources to otherwise procure, and donating your resources grants arts organizations the means to continue focusing on fulfilling their missions, growing their audiences, and producing great art. Did you know: Read the rest of this entry »

“Mrs. Murphy! I never knew there was so much art!”

Posted by Amanda Murphy On October - 24 - 2014
Amanda Murphy

Amanda Murphy

My two after school art clubs, six parent chaperones, and I were walking back from our enormously successful field trip when one of my students beamed: “Mrs. Murphy! I never knew there was so much art!” We’d spent the day elbow deep in art processes at The Shirt Factory in Glens Falls–a historic shirt factory turned haven for artists, crafters, and healers. If you find yourself in upstate New York, do yourself the favor of checking it out.

My students had the incredible opportunity to participate in hour long workshops in pottery, digital photography, felt making, flower pressing, and ‘plarn’ bracelet making–crocheted bracelets made from reused plastic shopping bags. My “art clubbers” were deeply engaged during each workshop, all of which were led by working artists. I excitedly traipsed through the stairwells trying to be in all the workshops simultaneously.

I loved watching them dive into the art making they’d only heard of in our pre-field trip meetings.

I loved watching students who weren’t typically friends bond without reservation over the processes they were sharing.

I loved watching them realize the arts are a viable career option, not only an activity to complete in the art room. Read the rest of this entry »

Many Hats, Giving Back

Posted by Julia Harman Cain On October - 23 - 2014
Julia Harman Cain headshot

Julia Harman Cain

I remember little about my first time on stage: a ballet recital at age three. We danced to “Winter” from Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons,” and I had no idea what I was doing. Happily, the VHS evidence shows that I did not fall down.

In first grade, I made my theatrical debut. My class produced a short skit about caring for the environment, and I played the crucial role of Super Recycling Kid (who recycled to save the planet). My favorite part was wearing my superhero cape for the rest of the school day.

Ever since, the arts have been a constant in my life. As a kid, I loved the transformation inherent in theater: we created a world together onstage and, for a few hours at a time, it was just as a real as anything else. Read the rest of this entry »

Champion Your Cause

Posted by Nora Orphanides On October - 22 - 2014
Nora Orphanides

Nora Orphanides

In this age of rapid technological change, it seems that the number of worthy causes known to people around the country and indeed the world is also growing at an exponential rate. Take the incredible ALS #IceBucketChallenge, for example, which reached millions on social media and raised over $115 million! But when videos are not flooding your newsfeed, how do you decide which organization to support, and when? Taking this thought one step further, how do you become an ambassador for your cause and inspire others to follow your example? Read the rest of this entry »

Raymond James and the Arts

Posted by Emily Kapes On October - 20 - 2014
Emily Kapes

Emily Kapes

Since the late 1950s, Tom James, our chairman at Raymond James, and his wife, Mary, have dedicated themselves to the acquisition of artwork from American artists, with a current focus on the art of the American West. Their collection has grown steadily over the years, and is now considered to be one of Florida’s largest private art collections.

More than 2,400 pieces, hand-selected by Mr. James, line the hallways of our international headquarters in St. Petersburg, Florida. Of course, we’d never want to keep the collection all to ourselves. With guided tours available during business hours and open to the public, our hallways sometimes seem more like a museum than a corporate workplace. We prefer it that way. Read the rest of this entry »

Giving Time and Treasure to the Arts

Posted by Abel Lopez On October - 20 - 2014
Abel Lopez

Abel Lopez

Edgar Smith

Edgar Smith

Welcome to Americans for the Arts’ latest blog salon, hosted by a hybrid of development and private sector partners. “Giving Time and Treasure to the Arts” can be interpreted in many ways depending on who’s doing the talking. It can mean raising support from corporate partners, building relationships with passionate individual philanthropists, engaging employee volunteers, or harnessing the power of creativity to increase productivity and happiness in the workplace. We welcome you to join us throughout the week to learn what “giving time and treasure to the arts” means to our members around the country, as well as some of our sector’s greatest supporters. Read the rest of this entry »

As Corporate Giving Bounces Back, Six Things Nonprofits Need to Know

Posted by Judy Belk On December - 13 - 2013
Judy Belk

Judy Belk

After years of recession-battered budgets, nonprofits finally are getting good news: U.S. charitable donations appear to be rebounding. Corporate giving, in particular, increased a cumulative 14.7% since 2010, according to the Giving USA Foundation. The median of total giving by companies jumped 23% last year and is almost back to pre-recession levels.

Many, but not all, nonprofits are getting some lift from that rising tide. A survey by the Nonprofit Research Collaborative found that 42% of nonprofits said they received more corporate funding in 2012 than in 2011.

Converging trends, however, are shaping how such funds will be allocated in the future. Most notable is pressure from customers and employees for companies to become better corporate citizens. At the same time, business-oriented thinking is coming to bear on philanthropy, including “impact investment” approaches, leveraging non-cash assets, more strategic planning and a desire to align charity and corporate missions.

These changes are spawning new expectations for nonprofits – but also revealing new resources for them to tap. Here are six trends to understand to successfully engage corporate donors. Read the rest of this entry »

As Charity Goes, So Goes the Arts?

Posted by Roland Kushner On December - 12 - 2013
Roland Kushner

Roland Kushner

I was happy to see the editorial “Handsome is as handsome gives” from long-time musician and arts advocate Arthur C. Brooks in the Wall Street Journal on Nov 25. Brooks, also an accomplished social scientist and president of American Enterprise Institute, cites studies, cites studies showing how increased generosity is good for one’s health, well-being, and attractiveness.  He cheerfully encourages readers to give generously so they might reap those rewards for themselves.

It turns out that Brooks missed one other benefit of increased generosity: it’s good for the artistic instinct and the progress of the arts.  There is a strong connection between the vitality of the arts and private support of all charitable causes that has persisted over many years.  Here’s some interesting data about that connection.

Last August, Americans for the Arts released the 2013 National Arts Index report, our fourth annual measure of vitality of arts and culture in the U.S.  The report spanned 2000 through 2011.  Co-author Randy Cohen and I calculate the Index score from 78 indicators of attendance, participation, consumption, investment, returns, volunteering, performances, compositions, imports and exports, government funding at all levels, numbers of artists and more.  The Index shows how dynamic those years were for the arts.

And not only the arts … we experienced recessions, booms, crises, recoveries, wars, political changes, technological advances, demographic shifts, new social movements, and of course, changes in the arts.  Intuition and experience suggest how that some of those dynamic forces – mostly macroeconomic – are positively linked to the arts: GDP, employment, stock market, population, and income. Some behavior and attitude patterns are arts-friendly: charitable giving, consumer confidence, leisure participation.  Each of these forces (and others) has its own record of growth and decline in recent years. How closely do the arts track these other forces? Read the rest of this entry »

Giving: Arts and Culture

Posted by Tim McClimon On December - 9 - 2013
Tim McClimon

Tim McClimon

There are lots of good reasons to support arts and culture organizations in your community: encouraging creativity, fostering innovation, enhancing the quality of life, beautifying our parks and public spaces, educating young people and audiences, and just for pure enjoyment and personal fulfillment – to name a few. I mean, who among us hasn’t enjoyed listening to great music in a concert hall, watching spectacular dance on stage, engaging with provocative actors in a theater or visiting a world-class art museum?

But another reason to support the arts is the economic impact that arts and culture organizations have in their local communities and the jobs they create.

According to a recent study of 182 communities by Americans for the Arts (Arts & Economic Prosperity IV), the nation’s nonprofit arts industry generated over $135 billion in economic activity nationally in 2010 (for-profit arts and entertainment activity was excluded from this study). $61 billion of this activity was generated directly by the country’s nonprofit arts and culture organizations and $74 billion was generated in event-related expenditures by their audience members.

This economic activity supports over 4 million full-time jobs and it generates over $22 billion in revenue for local, state and federal governments every year – a yield well beyond the $4 billion that is allocated to support arts organizations by governments annually.

According to the report, arts and culture organizations are resilient and entrepreneurial businesses. They employ people locally, purchase goods and services within their communities, and promote their communities as tourist destinations and great places to live.

Additionally, when patrons attend events, they often pay for parking or transportation, eat at local restaurants, shop in retail stores, have dessert on the way home, pay a babysitter or stay in local hotels. Based on over 150,000 audience surveys, the typical arts attendee spends almost $25 per person, per event, beyond the cost of admission – and this number is much greater in metropolitan areas. Read the rest of this entry »

Two Takes on the Business Case for Strategic Corporate Philanthropy

Posted by Eileen Cunniffe On October - 15 - 2013
Eileen Cunniffe

Eileen Cunniffe

Two recent articles make the case for strategic corporate philanthropy. And while the authors come at the topic from different angles, they agree that when corporate foundation or corporate social responsibility leaders align programs with causes that matter to their businesses, the investments yield many types of dividends.

Christine Park, president of the New York Life Foundation, offers the example of the impact her organization has had in addressing childhood bereavement. She notes that while as many as one in seven Americans loses a parent or sibling before age 20, grieving children are a surprisingly overlooked group. Since New York Life deals with families in times of grief, this cause resonates with people throughout the organization. As she explains, “…we practice advocacy with a lower-case ‘a’—with a focus on raising awareness, education, and public concern for issues where there is a clear and compelling need and little rational dispute as to the merits of the issue.”

Since adopting the “under-attended-to issue” of grieving children, the foundation has been able not only to invest resources (more than $13 million since 2007) in supporting grieving children, they’ve also been able to shine a bright spotlight on the topic and shape the national conversation about the needs of these children. They’ve forged strong partnerships with a number of leading nonprofits in the field, such as the Moyer Foundation and the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement, and fostered alliances across nonprofits in this category. Read the rest of this entry »

Catherine Brandt

Catherine Brandt

The New York Times recently published an opinion piece by Peter Singer asserting that some charitable causes are more important and, consequently, more worthy of philanthropic dollars. In the piece, Singer singles out arts, culture, and heritage institutions as less deserving. Both Laura Zucker, executive director of L.A. County Arts Commission, and Janet Brown, President and CEO of Grantmakers in the Arts, submitted rebuttals to The New York Times. As the paper has yet to publish them, we thought we would share them with you here instead:

 

To the Editor

Re: “Good Charity, Bad Charity” in the August 11 Sunday Review section, Mr. Singer assumes that charitable giving is a zero sum game. It isn’t. People give for a wide variety of reasons, including personal passions and social connectivity, and can almost always be motivated to give more when presented with compelling opportunities to make a difference. Making that difference can be both about mitigating the evils of the world and building on our assets, particularly when the effects of either are almost never as easy to quantify as the example Mr. Singer uses. How would the net benefits of his giving equation change if the charity working to reduce the incidence of trachoma was ineffectual at reaching the people who needed its services most and the museum building its new wing instituted a local hiring program that reduced the unemployment rate and enabled more people to purchase health insurance?

~Laura Zucker, Executive Director; L.A. County Arts Commission

 

Either-Or is Harmful to Charities and Society

Peter Singer’s Sunday, August 11 NY Times article entitled “Good Charity, Bad Charity” was a shocker. One would expect something a bit more far-reaching and not quite so simplistic from a bioethicist. American philanthropy, individual to institutional, reflects support for charities that represent the entire human spectrum. People are multitasking in charitable giving, just as they have multiple passions in their lives. It is what you would expect from a diverse country with a rich history of charitable giving.

Pitting charitable sectors against each other is an unseemly answer to the betterment of a society that, hopefully, strives to both eradicate suffering and promote an informed and satisfied citizenry. As President of Grantmakers in the Arts, I was appalled by Mr. Singer’s use of a museum as an example of “bad charity.” What kind of society or civilization would not value its history enough to share it with future generations? That history, whether told through art, culture, medicine or politics, is the journey of humankind. Interestingly, a primary value of the arts and humanities is empathy, understanding and pronouncing the pain of others in order to improve our condition as human beings. The willingness to preserve artistic and cultural treasures and interpret events past and present is a valuable part of any society that deems itself caring about its world citizens. Read the rest of this entry »

At Last, a Ray of Hope (from The pARTnership Movement)

Posted by Mark Shugoll On June - 20 - 2013

Mark Shugoll

Mark Shugoll

There is no doubt that the arts have faced, and continue to face, challenging times. Subscription numbers trend downward, putting increased pressure on each show to be a hit and sell lots of individual tickets. Total contributed income has been decreasing at many arts organizations, or at least has not grown fast enough to match increased costs and growing artistic ambitions. Words rarely associated with arts organizations in the past are becoming increasingly common: declaring bankruptcy, downsizing, and even going out of business.

In this challenging new reality, there is at last a ray of hope. In the recently completed triennial BCA National Survey of Business Support for the Arts conducted by Americans for the Arts, corporate giving is up for the first time in nine years. From 2009 to 2012, arts giving from corporations is up 18 percent. Before we all get too excited at what sounds like a huge number, remember arts giving is up 18 percent over three years, an average of a more modest 6 percent per year. And arts giving has only recovered to 2006 levels (although the survey does not adjust giving for inflation).

But the upward progress cannot be denied on almost any measure in the survey: the percent of businesses contributing to any philanthropic cause is up from 52 percent in 2009 to 64 percent today; the percent of all businesses giving to the arts is up from 28 percent in 2009 to 41 percent today; the percent the arts receive of total philanthropic contributions is up from 15 percent to 19 percent; the median contribution to the arts is the largest it has been in 6 years, up from $750 in 2009 to $1,000 today. And there is hope that these trends will continue as slightly more businesses today say they expect their total philanthropic giving, as well as their arts giving, to increase rather than decrease in 2013. Read the rest of this entry »

Claudia Jacobs

Claudia Jacobs

When I was a college student in the 60s we thought ourselves intellectual, political and even somewhat evolved. A widely acknowledged putdown of college athletes oft heard was that their course load included Basket Weaving 101. That statement was not only insensitive to athletes; it also inadvertently reflected an additional put down of the arts. And that attitude remains and is reflected in how the arts are viewed today. “In the public schools, arts are all too often the first programs to be cut and the last to be reinstated,” says James Grace, executive director of the Arts and Business Council of Greater Boston.

Today we need to update that thinking. If we are to actively enrich our communities, arts should not be a stepchild of science, technology, engineering or math (STEM). In New England alone, over 53,000 people are employed in the “creative economy” and that sector, if it were considered in the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS), which it is not, would rank just below the data and information sector and just ahead of the truck transportation sector, according to 2009 statistics compiled by the New England Foundation for the Arts. The 18,026 New England arts organizations supply the economy with nearly $3.7 billion–so why does STEM, an acronym that excludes the arts, seem to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue? Yes, there are major reasons why the U.S. needs to be focused on producing adults with skills in these areas, but why not include the arts and go from STEM to STEAM?

Philanthropies are more and more focused on impact, grantee accountability, metrics and getting results. Sound good? Not so fast. While these evaluation measures have importance, danger could be lurking. For the metric-merry this can have the potential of giving stepchild status to the arts as the less easily measured are most vulnerable to being cut from the roster. Some argue that the increased frenzy with metrics may indeed play a role in stifling innovation. Read the rest of this entry »

Why Public Funding for the Arts Matters

Posted by Ken Busby On June - 4 - 2013
Ken Busby

Ken Busby

We’ve just completed our legislative session in Oklahoma. Two efforts to provide state funding for an Oklahoma popular culture museum and an Oklahoma Native American cultural center were deferred for consideration because of the recent devastating tornados and their aftermath. An effort to move the Oklahoma Arts Council under the jurisdiction of the Oklahoma State Department of Tourism was fortunately averted.

However, these initiatives point to a much larger issue – a general misunderstanding of the power of the arts as an agent of economic development and a disregard for the importance of the arts in education.

And Oklahoma is not alone. Most states have seen budgets for state arts agencies reduced significantly or in some cases eliminated. And I’m not really blaming legislators for this apparent lack of understanding about the importance of the arts and public funding for them. Many of our state legislators didn’t grow up with arts experiences and field trips to museums and visits to the symphony. We’ve lost almost two generations of adults who received regular arts experiences from Kindergarten through 12th Grade. Read the rest of this entry »

Bruce Whitacre

Bruce Whitacre

While corporate philanthropy has long ago shifted from community charity to strategic, carefully designed programs, a fundamental question of authenticity can undermine the soundest strategies.

If the association between a company and a cause, or the social impact of the company’s action does not resonate with consumers and other stakeholders, what is the point of the best-laid plans?

This question was examined at a recent panel convened by Barron’s and the Luxury Marketing Council, a collaborative organization of leading brands. Discussion was led by journalist and author Richard C. Morais, editor of Barron’s Penta, a quarterly magazine and website serving wealthy families. In this context, Morais addressed the inherent contradiction facing luxury brands and philanthropy — high end products are often marketed as expressions and rewards for one’s self, and this can create dissonance for philanthropic projects focused on others. Customers of these brands are also often philanthropists themselves and they are attuned to these inconsistencies.

As Page Snow, Chief Philanthropic Officer at Foundation Source, illustrated, “Individuals of wealth are approached constantly for various causes, and their BS detector becomes very finely tuned, especially at higher levels of wealth.”

Read the rest of this entry »