As Public Funding for Arts Shrinks, Institutional Donors Bolster Giving

Over the past few years, public funding for the performing arts has decreased significantly in terms of real dollars. Under the Trump administration budget proposed in March, funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services would be eliminated completely. Although these institutions comprise 0.02% of the federal budget, they are crucial for sustaining organizations with fewer outside sources of donations. As explained by Robert Lynch, president of Americans for the Arts, “There are a few arts organizations at the top that are very stable, but most of them are struggling every day… Any interruption in that fragile ecosystem has an effect.”

Within this context, the importance of institutional donors such as the Shubert Foundation has heightened considerably. The Shubert Foundation has increased its annual grantmaking from $22.5 million toward two hundred theater and dance organizations in 2014, to $26.8 million and more than five hundred grantees in 2017. Unlike typical funders of the performing arts, which tend to award multimillion dollar gifts toward a narrow range of high-profile projects, the Shubert Foundation provides unrestricted funding to a wide breadth of organizations. The Shubert Foundation now awards more than half the funding provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, which stood at $47 million in 2016. Along with the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and New England Foundation for the Arts, Shubert and other institutional donors have emerged as a substantial source of reliable funding.

Read more at Inside Philanthropy and The Washington Post.