Money & Business

Foundation Launches $40 Million Bid to Build Arts Audiences

By / Oct 10, 2014 (Pavel Losevsky/ThinkStock)

The arts philanthropy group will carry out a six-year initiative to build sustainable audiences for arts organizations. The goal: to translate what the grantees learn to the arts community nationwide.

A major fixture of the New York City philanthropic community, the Wallace Foundation is expanding its efforts to support the arts in the city with an interesting new angle.

Instead of providing general funding for arts programs, the foundation is dedicating $40 million to develop strategies to make about 25 arts programs more financially stable by engaging with new audiences. The goal is not just to aid the organizations receiving funding but also to create audience outreach models and build knowledge that can be applied to arts groups nationwide.

“We see helping arts organizations find ways to thrive, not simply survive, as an important part of our mission,” foundation President Will Miller said in a statement. “This new effort will not only support the plans of about 25 great arts organizations to expand and diversify their audiences, it will also provide new insights and knowledge that we hope will be useful to the entire field.”

The grant recipients will be announced in February 2015.

The foundation is building its new program on the framework provided by its Wallace Excellence Awards, which aided 54 projects over the past several years. Forty-six of those projects supplied data that shows the foundation may be on the right track.

“Over a period that averaged three years, the organizations seeking an increase in the size of their overall audience saw median gains of 27 percent, while those targeting growth of a specific segment saw median gains of 60 percent,” the foundation reported.

A new report from the foundation, The Road to Results: Effective Practices for Building Arts Audiences, identifies nine practices based on studies of 10 arts organizations that worked with the Wallace Excellence Awards initiative.

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Morgan Little

Morgan Little is a contributor to Associations Now. More »

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