Not Just Money: Equity Issues in Cultural Philanthropy

Holly Sidford

July 2017, 37 pages. Surdna Foundation, 330 Madison Avenue, 30th Floor, New York, NY 10017. (212) 557-0010. http://surdna.org.

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   Not Just Money: Equity Issues in Cultural Philanthropy (718Kb)

In 2011, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy published Fusing Art, Culture and Social Change, written by Helicon Collaborative. The report documented the striking inequities in funding for the arts in the U.S. and laid out the aesthetic, demographic, and economic case for supporting the cultural diversity of our country more equitably.

With support from the Surdna Foundation, Helicon has looked at the picture again, five years on, to see what has changed. Spoiler alert: despite important efforts by many leading foundations, funding overall has gotten less equitable. Cultural philanthropy is not effectively – or equitably – supporting the dynamic pluralism of our evolving cultural landscape.

This report summarizes the main findings of the recent research, revisiting the reasons why addressing diversity and equity issues in the cultural sector matters more than ever and reviewing six key findings related to national and local patterns of funding distribution, the demographics of people making funding decisions, and the distinct issues facing cultural organizations whose primary artistic mission is to serve communities of color or low-income communities. It concludes with suggestions for how to speed progress toward a more inclusive and equitable system of cultural philanthropy.

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