Member Spotlight: Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust
For the month of September, GIA’s photo banner features work supported by Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust.
Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust supports organizations that enrich health, well-being, and opportunity for the people of Maricopa County in Arizona—the fourth-most populous county in the United States.
Investments in arts and culture have been a significant part of Piper Trust’s work to create a vibrant Maricopa County and enrich quality of life in our young, highly diverse, and rapidly growing metropolitan areas.
In 2017 Piper Trust launched a project called AGILE: Reinforcing Resiliency in Arts and Culture. A two-year, $2 million pilot for a cohort of four arts grantees, AGILE -based on Dr. Susan Kenny Steven’s nonprofit lifecycles framework- aims to address significant and long-standing financial challenges that can destabilize arts and culture organizations in a community with minimal government and limited philanthropic resources devoted to the arts.
Originally conceived as a “capitalization effort” to build working capital and artistic reserves, AGILE morphed into a “pre-capitalization” program devoted to closing operating deficits and building a path to annual surpluses as initial steps toward building reserves. AGILE includes: specially trained local consultants carefully matched to each participant organization, robust capacity and business planning processes, peer group learning sessions, and up to $375,000 in grants to support needs revealed by the dual planning processes.
The power of AGILE is its rootedness in context—organizational and community. Capitalization is eminently sensible in theory but challenging in practice. AGILE attempts to adjust the theory to local conditions and possibly expand the capitalization approach to Piper Trust’s other grantmaking areas.
Some examples of successful AGILE participants include:
- i.d.e.a. Museum—a children’s museum of fine arts, science, engineering, and design-thinking located in Mesa, Arizona
- The Children’s Museum of Phoenix—devoted to engaging children in learning through play
- Childsplay—a nationally recognized professional theater for young audiences
- Arizona Opera—one of only a few companies in the U.S. that performs in more than one city
Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust joined Grantmakers in the Arts in 2003.
Image: Arizona Opera; Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona
Arizona Opera performs Candide. Arizona Opera is one of successful AGILE participants.
Text by Ellen Solowey, senior program officer, Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust