Support for Arts Substantial Yet Shrinking Priority for Foundations

Support for Arts Substantial Yet Shrinking Priority for Foundations

Funding for arts and culture remains a significant but somewhat less important priority for corporations and U.S. foundations, a report from Grantmakers in the Arts finds.

The report, Arts Funding at Twenty-Five: What Data and Analysis Continue to Tell Funders About the Field (PDF, 16 pages), found that estimated giving for the arts by U.S. foundations totaled $4.9 billion in 2014, up from $3.7 billion in 2000. After adjusting for inflation, however, the value of foundation support for the arts declined by 3 percent over that period. In contrast, foundation funding overall, adjusted for inflation, increased 59 percent between 2000 and 2014. As a result, arts and culture accounted for an estimated 8 percent of total U.S. foundation giving in 2014, down from more than 13 percent in the early 2000s. The report also found that corporate funding for the arts declined in 2003 and 2004 and for three consecutive years from 2008 and 2010, during the Great Recession, and that while 81 percent of companies provided general philanthropic support, only three-quarters (73 percent) of those companies supported arts and cultural organizations.

Marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of GIA's initial arts funding benchmarking study, which was done in partnership with Foundation Center, the report found that the single largest share of revenue for U.S. arts organizations — and the overwhelming source of revenue for most other types of nonprofits — is earned income, including fees for services from private and government sources, investment income, and other revenue. However, between 2000 and 2013, the latest year for which comparable data are available, earned income as a share of total nonprofit revenue for arts organizations slipped from 49 percent to 46 percent.

"[This] research reveals the importance of our continuing to support the arts as an intrinsic good and to make the case for their role as an essential part of supporting people and communities," said GIA president and CEO Edwin Torres. "The arts are what make us fully human. This report is a clarion call for all of us — the public sector, new foundations, corporations — to support the full humanity of our residents and our communities through inclusion of the arts in their philanthropic strategies."

"Grantmakers in the Arts Releases Pivotal Research on Arts and Culture Funding." Grantmakers in the Arts Press Release 02/13/2018.