Arts Policy Roundtable Raises Concerns Over Arts Giving

D.C.-based Americans for the Arts and the Sundance Preserve, a nonprofit organization dedicated to environmental stewardship and the value of independent thinking, have announced recommendations from the first annual National Arts Policy Roundtable, which was convened last fall to address the decline of arts philanthropy and the future of private sector giving to the arts.

Research conducted by Americans for the Arts during a year-long investigation suggests that nonprofit arts groups are experiencing a major shift in support. Since 1992, the arts portion of philanthropic giving has dropped from 8.4 percent to 5.2 percent — roughly $8 billion annually — while many new foundations, corporations, and individuals have chosen to focus their giving on more "high touch" opportunities that address social, environmental, and/or education needs. Arts organizations in the U.S. currently derive 43 percent of their revenue from private contributions, so further declines in giving to the arts could dramatically alter the nonprofit cultural landscape.

Held at the Sundance Preserve in Sundance, Utah, the roundtable resulted in a vision statement which includes a recognition that the arts are complementary to the civic agendas of all businesses, foundations, and individual philanthropists and should be included within their giving strategies. Roundtable participants also expressed hope that foundations will adopt grantmaking and arts policies that advance entrepreneurship, innovation, and civic engagement, while nurturing and developing new creative voices for the benefit of the broader community.

"The arts are not tangential — they are core to community development in America," said Americans for the Arts president and CEO Robert L. Lynch. "The National Arts Policy Roundtable recommendations remind us that we must better communicate the value of the arts in American society and the integral role the arts play in addressing social needs and issues."