Charitable Giving to the Arts Up From Last Year


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.

But a†new study published by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) raises some questions about where that money is going.

“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.


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Photo credit: gelinh


Ted V.
Ted V6 years ago

The Koch Brothers are great patrons of the arts.

K s Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Janet K.
Janet K6 years ago

Finally some good news. It doesn't take a lot of money to support art. I made sure my house was fully stocked with paper, crayons, pens, markers, colored pencils, etc. (all purchased at local discount stores) and encouragement. My house was a beacon to many local youth several of which have gone on to earn their livings through art.

Abigail W.
Abigail W.6 years ago

Many of the poor and hungry are artists. I wish some one would start an organization to help all artists, but visual artists especially.

Sylvia M.
Sylvia M.6 years ago

Art matters & life is much more poor w/o it. But life matters even more.With so many people hungry & homeless & donations way down it's hard to be thankful for an increase in giving to the arts.It almost seems like Nero fiddling while Rome burns. At least the well to do are giving some of it away even if just for the tax break.

Rita White
Rita White6 years ago

Good news

Doug Alley
Doug Alley6 years ago

Good news!

Carmen S.
Carmen S6 years ago

this is good news, thanks

Amie K.
Amie K6 years ago

I have visions of living in a world where the artists, writers, philosphers, and the like are heralded as the 'rock stars' of humanity instead of sport figures, young techie billionaires, etc.

Dare to dream! :-)

Brenda Bracey
Brenda Bracey6 years ago

Yes, we all need to have the pleasure of the arts. I worked at the Virginia Museum Fine Arts for a year and people are mesmerized and taken to another place with exhibits and classes there. The funding and donations must continue and thank God for the patrons who give millions in money and the others who give millions in the art itself. I love to listen to the comments made by people who see a Picasso for the first time and the only east coast showing of him was there. I have never seen or heard anything like it.