Study: Arts Funding Benefits Wealthy, Established Organizations

Cash. (Photo: Jason Dirks / Flickr)

A new study by the watchdog group the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy reports that funding from nonprofit foundations is helping only a fraction of groups, many of which are established, well funded and serve a predominantly white audience.

The Associated Press, which received an early look at the report, called “Fusing Arts, Culture and Social Change,” reported that the study notes that:

“…the largest arts organizations with budgets exceeding $5 million represent only 2 percent of the nonprofit arts and culture sector. Yet those groups received 55 percent of foundation funding for the arts in 2009. Only 10 percent of funding went to underserved populations.”

That $5 million budget cutoff is well above the budgets of many of the New York art world’s nonprofit and alternative spaces, including Artists Space, Taller Boricua, White Columns, SculptureCenter and the Studio Museum, whose expenses in 2010 were $4,986,000.

The study’s author, Holly Sidford, puts it bluntly in the report: “It is a problem because it means that — in the arts — philanthropy is using its tax-exempt status primarily to benefit wealthier, more privileged institutions and populations.”

The NCRP has called on groups to broaden the reach of their funding, and to focus on programs at major institutions that attract a more diverse audience.

Study: Arts Funding Benefits Wealthy, Established Organizations