Don't Hesitate, Communicate: Fusing Arts, Culture and Social Change

This is a report by Holly Sidford, Helicon, published by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP).

Art and culture are fundamental elements of a society, essential means by which people shape their identity, explain their experiences and imagine the future. In the United States, institutional philanthropy is a key contributor to arts and cultural institutions and to artists; it is an important stimulus to progress in this field. Each year, foundations award about $2.3 billion to the arts, but the distribution of these funds does not reflect the country's evolving cultural landscape and changing demographics. Current arts grantmaking disregards large segments of cultural practice, and consequently, large segments of our society.

Fusing Arts, Culture and Social Change outlines compelling demographic, aesthetic and economic reasons for foundations to rethink their grantmaking practices to stay current with changes in the cultural sector and to continue to be relevant to the evolving needs of our communities. Regardless of its history or primary philanthropic focus, every foundation investing in the arts can make fairness and equity core principles of its grantmaking. It can do so by intentionally prioritizing underserved communities in its philanthropy and by investing substantially in community organizing and civic engagement work in the arts and culture sector. By doing so, arts funders – individually and collectively – can make meaningful contributions toward a more inclusive and dynamic cultural sector, and a fairer, more democratic world.

This is the third in a series of reports from NCRP that invites grantmakers focused on specific issues to reconsider their funding strategies to generate the greatest impact. A report for education grantmakers was published in October 2010 and for health funders in April 2011. A fourth report for environment and climate funders will be published in early 2012.

PDF of report attached