Many stories in the news today focus on the ways in which the economy is getting worse. Charitable giving to the arts dropped dramatically during the economic meltdown of 2008 and 2009.† However, this year, giving to the arts is up by 5% from last year.† This is great news since the arts are often the first things cut in any educational program or overall funding.†NPR points out that most of that money benefits organizations whose audiences are disproportionately wealthy and white.
A prime example of this is the New York Metropolitan Opera, who has a fiscal year that runs from August to July.† The Met will end this year with $182 million in donations, an increase of 50 percent more than last year.
“Funding for arts and culture is primarily flowing to larger organizations,” says Aaron Dorfman, who directs the NCRP, which is the watchdog group that monitors giving by foundations. Dorfman says the majority of foundations giving to the arts goes to organizations with budgets of $5 million dollars a year or more.
He goes on to say that he does not begrudge the larger organizations their success in raising funds, but is also quick to point out that you donít hear of these successes coming from programs that support artists of color.
“Most of your museums, symphonies, opera houses ó large established cultural institutions that are promoting the European cannon,” he says. “The audiences for those institutions continue to be predominantly upper income and white. So what it means is that this funding is not really benefiting everyone in our society.Ē
Maybe the money isnít in the places that people would like to see, or that might deserve it, but the fact is that more money is going to the arts. I, for one, am glad that the Met is going to be around, and that some of the museums where I learned about Art History, European or otherwise, will still be available to everybody.
Personally, I would like to see all arts programs funded, and I continuously hope for the day that they are.† For now, like everyone else in this economy, I am going to support what I can, and appreciate the ones that others can support.† I hope the climate changes soon, and the best way to support the arts is to buy a ticket.
Photo credit: gelinh