In Response to the Times

Published in: GIA Reader, Vol 20, No 2 (Summer 2009)

Janet Brown

As we move through the greatest economic downturn since the great depression, Grantmakers in the Arts has analyzed its programs and put together what we believe to be an appropriate response to the times. This edition of the Reader is part of our design to provide relevant research and statistics to the field in an economical and efficient manner. This summer edition of the Reader is published solely on-line. A PDF file was mailed to all members and subscribers and is available on the website, and the individual articles are also posted in the GIA web Library. If you would like a saddle stitched hard copy—you can order one from Lulu, our print-on-demand service: http://stores.lulu.com/giarts.

As co-editor Frances Phillips defines it, the summer version is the “skinny” Reader. It seemed logical that we would begin our new era of improved electronic communication with our members and the entire arts philanthropy field with this edition. The fall edition will once again be published both on-line and in print.

The arts community will see a couple more changes this year in GIA's approach to its work. First, we will launch our new website late summer or early fall which will include our library of over 3,500 articles available to members and non-members. The new part of this, aside from the new look and more transparency on the content of the site, will be greater search capacity making our library of extraordinary philanthropic resources more accessible to the field of grantmakers and grantees. The site will continue to have a members-only section which will provide greater interaction with individual members, the member directory and potential for highly functional discussions between groups of members who want to discourse on any given topic. We will also provide more directed information for our interest groups.

From October 18-21 in Brooklyn, NY, grantmakers in the arts from every sector and community are invited to join us at our national conference. Again, in response to the times, this convening entitled “The 2009 Recession Conference: Navigating the Art of Change,” will provide an opportunity for focus groups with peers, plenary sessions on the future of the economy, Wynton Marsalis' inspirational “Ballad of the American Arts” and best practices, some new and some old, that are setting precedent for funding in the future. Public agencies, private and community foundations, corporate funders and nonprofit grantmakers will come together at a time of new perspectives. My primary goals of this, my first GIA conference as executive director, is to have all sectors of the field represented and that participants leave with valuable new ideas, hope for the future and more resources to do their work. Our one-day preconferences October 18 on arts education, social justice, and support for individual artists are opportunities to share valuable information in an intimate and informal setting. We come to learn, to find new ideas and to share our work that is often isolating and always complex in an environment that is comfortable and welcoming to all grantmakers.

Enjoy this 2009 Arts Funding Snapshot edition of the Reader. “Enjoy” seems a relative term in this context. Although times are tough and some of the information provided here is not pleasant for any of us, we remember that the artists that inspire us continue to create because they are driven to do so and the arts organizations that produce and support their work are the pride and engines of the creative communities in which we all aspire to live. GIA hopes to respond to the goals of grantmakers in a timely and relevant manner. We are the “big tent” of arts philanthropy and our responsibility to bring the field together is more important today than ever before.

Janet Brown, Executive Director