2008 LA Arts Funding Survey Results Released by Southern California Grantmakers

April 3, 2009

Reports Stagnating Support, Limited Accessibility for LAs Nonprofit Arts Sector; Arts Organizations Continue Struggle to Do More With Less

LOS ANGELES, April 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — “Arts in the Balance,” summarizing the fifth and concluding biennial survey of public and private arts funding in Los Angeles County, was released today by Southern California Grantmakers (SCG). SCG conducted the 2007/2008 survey in partnership with the UCLA Center for Civil Society.

This year’s survey examined the extent to which arts funding sources and patterns have slumped — or, in many cases stayed much the same — over the past 10 years. The survey also provides insights into the current arts and culture funding climate within the context of trends that stand to impact the arts funding landscape in the years ahead.

There are just over 1,000 arts and culture nonprofits in Los Angeles County, with approximately $1.2 billion in revenue. As a group, their revenue has increased by 24 percent since 1998. However, much of those increases occurred during the early survey periods. In contrast, revenue for the nonprofit sector as a whole increased by 37 percent. At the same time, the slowdown in LA’s arts and culture nonprofit sector that began between 2004 and 2006 has continued, resulting in declines in revenue — despite revenue growth for the nonprofit sector overall — even as expenditures continued to increase.

“Our region’s nonprofit arts and cultural organizations are essential to a vibrant public sphere, freedom of expression and civic participation throughout LA’s increasingly diverse communities,” said Sushma Raman, President of Southern California Grantmakers (SCG). “While data for this most recent survey was gathered prior to the financial meltdown that hit the country in fall of 2008, funders who responded to the survey were already expressing increased pessimism about their financial situation, as well as their capacity for future funding of the arts. At the same time creative minds have a way of coming together with passion, inspiration and ingenuity. These qualities can be put to work by funders and the arts community alike to reinvigorate advocacy, forge new partnerships, develop innovative new organizational models and create networks along economies of scale, leading to increased opportunities for meeting the challenges that lie ahead.”

Arts organizations are faced with both tremendous challenges and potentially devastating consequences. And, even though county and city support have increased admirably in recent years, the share of government dollars flowing into the local arts community remains well below comparable figures for other cultural capitals such as New York, Chicago or San Francisco.

According to Helmut Anheier, Director, UCLA Center for Civil Society, “There exists a recurring trilemma comprising the growing need for arts funding, stagnating financial support and limited accessibility to available private funding sources. The current economic crisis adds new challenges to LA’s arts organizations, but it is important to note that some of the underlying trends have been taking place for some time. Indeed, for as long as we have surveyed arts funding patterns and trends in L.A., a central finding has been that public and private funding flows are unlikely to meet the financial needs of LA’s arts and culture nonprofit sector. Expressed in constant dollars, funding flows to the arts are about the same as they were in 2000.”

A curious anomaly is the fact that public funders are more likely than the private sector to support individual artists; however, the average grant size for individual artists from the private funders is nearly three times the size of the average public grant to individual artists.

“A strong and vibrant arts community is integral to the life and vitality of Los Angeles County,” said Wendy Garen, President & Chief Executive Officer, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation. “By illuminating the human condition, fostering understanding between diverse cultures and enhancing quality of life, the arts encourage civic involvement and yield important economic benefits that strengthen our region culturally and economically.”

The survey also provided a measure of good news for LA’s arts community, showing a higher percentage of funders providing much-needed general operating support than in past years. General endowment, capital campaign and technical assistance support also increased. Additionally, arts education emerged as the most popular funding category — arts education (88%), museums, galleries, visual arts (84%), music (72%) and theater (68%). Both public and private funders were more likely to fund arts education in 2008 than they were in 2000.

Flexible practices saw increases in 2008 as well. In comparison to 2002, both public and private funders are increasingly allowing applications to be submitted electronically. However, a large number of funders continue to entertain proposals by invitation only, thereby inhibiting open access.

The 2007/2008 “Arts in the Balance” survey summary may be viewed at www.socalgrantmakers.org, or a copy may be requested by calling Southern California Grantmakers at 213-680-8866, ext. 0.

The survey report is available upon request.

About Southern California Grantmakers

Founded in 1973, Southern California Grantmakers (SCG), www.socalgrantmakers.org, is a membership association comprised of private-sector grantmakers including: independent foundations, family foundations, corporate foundations and giving programs, community foundations, public foundations, privately operating foundations and individual philanthropists.

SOURCE Southern California Grantmakers

Source: newswire

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