Monica's Blog

Posted on March 16, 2017 by Monica

President Trump released his first federal budget plan today, as reported by The New York Times:

President Trump, in his first federal budget plan, proposed eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. President Trump also proposed scrapping the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. . . . It was the first time a president has called for ending the endowments. . . .

Nothing will change for the endowments or other agencies immediately. Congress writes the federal budget, not the president, and White House budget plans are largely political documents that telegraph a president’s priorities.

Yet never before have Republicans, who have proposed eliminating the endowments in the past, been so well-positioned to close the agencies, given their control of both houses of Congress and the White House, and now the president’s fiscal plan. . . .

Arts groups have already begun a furious lobbying campaign to press Republicans in Congress to save the endowments. The House will draft a budget in the coming months, and arts groups have already been focusing its lobbying efforts there.

Posted on March 15, 2017 by Monica

The president of The F.B. Heron Foundation, Clara Miller, recently published an article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review about how Heron achieved its goal of investing 100 percent of its endowment toward fulfilling its mission, as well as seven lessons the foundation learned along the way:

We always knew that “getting to 100 percent,” while important, would be like reaching a false summit. The challenges remain, and they loom large. . . . That’s why, going forward, we will work to optimize our portfolio for mission and finance together. But beyond that, we will strive to capture and share what we’ve learned, and improve our approach to investing so that we can contribute to improving practices in the broader market.

In that spirit, we would like to share some lessons we learned on the path to our “100 percent” goal, as well as our thoughts on the significance of those lessons and our own plans for the future.

Posted on March 15, 2017 by Monica

Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation (MAAF) announced that Theresa Colvin will be its next executive director. Colvin will succeed Alan W. Cooper who is retiring after 23 years as the Foundation’s director. Colvin will begin her tenure on May 1, 2017. She comes to MAAF from the Maryland State Arts Council where she has been the executive director for the past 16 years.

Posted on March 8, 2017 by Monica

The MIT Media Lab has opened nominations for the Disobedience Award, a one-time award of $250,000 for “a person or group engaged in what we believe is extraordinary disobedience for the benefit of society”:

We’d like to call out action that seeks to change society in positive ways and is consistent with a set of key principles. These principles include non-violence, creativity, courage, and taking responsibility for one’s actions. We’re seeking both expected and unexpected nominees. This could include–but isn’t limited to–those engaged in scientific research, civil rights, freedom of speech, human rights, and the freedom to innovate.
Posted on March 7, 2017 by Monica

A recent blog post written by Executive Vice President Mariët Westermann of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation voices support for the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities. She discusses the billions of dollars in grants made possible by collaboration between private funders (including Mellon) and the Endowments and argues that many arts initiatives and programs across the country would not be possible without this collaboration. She writes:

Posted on March 7, 2017 by Monica

Creative Minnesota and Minnesota Citizens for the Arts have released their latest statewide study on the arts and culture sector. As the most comprehensive report ever done of the state’s creative sector Creative Minnesota fills in the gaps of available information about Minnesota’s cultural field and seeks to improve understanding of its importance to quality of life and the economy.

Posted on March 3, 2017 by Monica

Kickstarter has released its first annual benefit statement since becoming a public benefit corporation in 2015. One component of the company’s new charter is to “annually donate 5% of its after-tax profit towards arts and music education, and to organizations fighting to end systemic inequality.” An article in Fast Company explains:

The crowdfunding platform joined Patagonia and a few other companies that have accepted a legal obligation to benefit society, rather than just focusing on maximizing shareholder value. Every two years, Kickstarter is required to report on its progress in achieving a long list of objectives laid out in its charter—in other words, it has to prove the benefit that it’s providing the public.
Posted on March 2, 2017 by Monica

In a recent blog post, The Heinz Endowments President Grant Oliphant writes about the power of arts, journalism, and courage in times of political conflict. In the spirit of this idea, the Endowments have increased their arts grantmaking budget:

For our part, the Endowments has decided to increase its normal grantmaking in the arts and creativity by $1.5 million this year, an increase of nearly 17 percent. This additional investment will not go to doing more of what we already do. While still being shaped, we expect it to deepen connections with our sustainability and learning work, broaden our engagement in neighborhoods and schools, and connect us more directly with artists who are using art to promote social justice and social change.
Posted on March 1, 2017 by Monica

Nonprofit regrantor Dance/NYC has announced the inaugural recipients of its "Disability. Dance. Artistry. Fund" with support from the Ford Foundation. The new fund supports integrated dance performances featuring dancers with and without disabilities, aiming to bring attention to the artistic excellence of disabled dancers.

An article in the Nonprofit Quarterly discusses the recent announcement: "Visibility for performers with disabilities is decidedly lacking in the dance world. . . . Dance/NYC is changing this situation, flipping from thinking of disabled dancers as patients to thinking of their disabilities as a fount for creativity."

Posted on March 1, 2017 by Monica

From the Times Free Press:

Beginning July 1, the leading organization for funding Chattanooga arts programming will restructure how the money it raises is disbursed and who can get it in hopes of reaching more arts organizations and more people in the community. . . . For the last 48 years, as few as five and as many as 16 arts organizations in Chattanooga could count on ArtsBuild — originally the Allied Arts Fund and later Allied Arts of Greater Chattanooga — to help raise a portion of their annual operating funds. Part of Allied Arts' original mission was to be a single fundraising body for a select few agencies, and ArtsBuild has continued that effort. . . .