General Motors Foundation to Cut Funding for Arts Groups

General Motors Foundation to Cut Funding for Arts Groups

The General Motors Foundation has decided to cut its support for metro Detroit's top cultural institutions, putting Michigan's nonprofit community on notice that it could lose millions in funding as the auto industry struggles to survive, the Detroit Free Press reports.

In 2007, the most recent year for which figures are available, the foundation awarded nearly $12 million to Michigan-based organizations — and $31.4 million globally — in areas such as arts and culture, social service, education, and health care. According to GM Foundation chair Rod Gillum, the amount of money the foundation has set aside for charitable causes in 2009 is "nowhere near as big" as the 2007 total, and any nonprofit previously funded by GM should be making contingency plans.

While the full extent of the philanthropic fallout from the automaker's financial troubles is unclear, one area where the picture is coming into focus is the arts. Indeed, GM has already notified about a dozen arts groups in Detroit not to expect any annual support in 2009 — a decision, said Gillum, that will cost the local nonprofit arts community more than $1 million. The pullback means cuts of $350,000 to the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts; $250,000 to the Michigan Opera Theatre (and the first spring season the company hasn't underwritten since MOT opened as the Detroit Opera House in 1996); $100,000 to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra; and $75,000 to Mosaic Youth Theatre.

"It's a major hit for us," said Mosaic founder and CEO Rick Sperling. "For the first time in our sixteen-year history, we'll serve fewer young people this year than the year before."

Mark Stryker. "GM Foundation Yanks Funding to Art and Cultural Groups." Detroit Free Press 01/08/2009.