Foundation Grants to Arts and Culture in 2017
A One-Year Snapshot
In 2017, giving by the approximately 86,000 active US foundations rose 12% to $77.3 billion. Among one thousand of the largest US independent, corporate, community, and grantmaking operating foundations included in Candid’s 2017 FC 1000 dataset, overall giving was up 8%, however, arts and culture funding declined 1%. Arts and culture remained among top foundation funding priorities, ranking fifth behind human services.
Candid offers these key findings from GIA’s eighteenth snapshot of foundation giving to arts and culture. The definition of arts and culture used for this snapshot is based on Candid’s Philanthropy Classification System,1 and encompasses funding for the performing arts, museums, visual arts, multidisciplinary arts, humanities, historical activities, arts services, folk arts, public arts, and cultural awareness. These findings are based on analysis of two closely related datasets. The analysis of the distribution of 2017 arts and culture giving uses the latest FC 1000 dataset,2 while the analysis of changes in foundation giving for the arts between 2016 and 2017 uses a matched set of foundations that are consistent between the FC 1000 for each of those two years.3
Arts funding as a share of total dollars dipped slightly in 2017.
Among the one thousand largest foundations included in Candid’s grants sample for 2017, arts giving totaled $2.8 billion, or 8% of overall grant dollars. Compared to the previous year, share of dollars was down slightly and share of number of grants remained basically unchanged.
Foundation funding for arts and culture was down in 2017.
Among a matched set of leading funders, arts funding declined 1% between 2016 and 2017 compared to an 8% increase in overall giving by these foundations.
The size of the median arts grant was down.
The median arts and culture grant size — $27,500 — decreased from $28,600. This was below the $35,000 median amount for all foundation grants in the latest year.
Large grants account for more than half of arts grant dollars.
Large arts grants of $500,000 and more captured 63% of total grant dollars for the arts in 2017, the same share from 2016.
Relative to overall giving, a larger share of arts grant dollars provided general operating support.
In 2017, general operating support accounted for 26% of arts and culture grant dollars. The share is significantly higher than the 20% share awarded for general operating support for overall giving.
Top arts funders accounted for a slightly smaller share of overall giving than in 2016.
The top twenty-five arts funders by giving amount provided 38% of total foundation arts dollars in 2017, down slightly from the 40% share reported in 2016. The share of arts giving accounted for by the top funders has remained relatively consistent for the past decade.
The foundation grantmaking examined here represents only one source of arts financing. It does not examine arts support from earned income, governments, individual donors, or the business community. This analysis also looks only at foundation arts support for nonprofit organizations, and not for individual artists, commercial arts enterprises, or informal and unincorporated activities.
Overall foundation dollars for the arts.
The foundations included in Candid’s 2017 FC 1000 dataset awarded 18,746 arts and culture grants totaling $2.8 billion, or 8% of overall grant dollars, as shown in figure 1. Compared to the previous year, the share for arts dollars were down slightly (8% versus 9%), while the share of number of grants remained basically unchanged. Among a matched subset of 845 funders, grant dollars for the arts was down 1% between 2016 and 2017, compared to an 8% increase in grant dollars overall. Among the top-ranked subject areas by grant dollars, human rights, the environment and animals, and public affairs reported the fastest increases in dollars, as shown in figure 2.
The impact of exceptionally large grants.
Every year and in all funding areas, a few very large grants can skew overall totals, creating distortions in long-term grantmaking trends. In 2017, twenty arts and culture grants provided at least $10 million, and instances where these grants had a notable impact on grantmaking patterns are identified throughout this analysis. Yet despite the potential fluctuations caused by these exceptional grants, Candid data in all fields have always included them, providing consistency over time. (In addition, Candid provides statistics based on share of number of grants, which are not skewed by exceptionally large grants.)
Corporate foundations represent an important source of support for arts and culture.
Corporate foundations account for roughly 8% of overall US private and community foundation giving, and these larger corporate foundations included in the 2017 grants sample provided 6% of grant dollars for the arts, as shown in figure 3. Actual grant dollars totaled $157 million. By number, corporate foundations allocated 1,840 grants, or 10%, of the overall number of arts grants in 2017. Please note that these figures do not include direct corporate giving; the amount that corporations contribute to the arts is undoubtedly higher.
Grants by Arts Subfield
Funding for performing arts accounted for one-third of all foundation art dollars in 2017, as shown in figure 4, surpassing the share reported for museums (27%). From the start of the 1980s until 1997, the performing arts consistently received more foundation support than museums. However, museums surpassed the performing arts by share in the late 1990s to early 2000s and several times in recent years (2010, 2013, and 2014). The shifts in share between these two fields of activity from year to year could be due to the entry onto the scene of new and large arts funders, extraordinarily large grants, the contribution of valuable art collections, and new capital projects at museums.
Giving to performing arts.
In 2017, among a matched set of funders, performing arts grant dollars were down 5% compared to 2016, while the number of grants declined 2%. A total of 7,542 grants were awarded for the performing arts by foundations in the set — more than double the number reported for museums. In general, the average performing arts grant tends to be smaller in size than the average museum grant (around $116,000 versus $217,000 in 2017). The largest share of giving to the performing arts supported theaters and performing arts centers. The largest performing arts grant in the latest sample was a $59 million award from the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation to the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Included within the performing arts is support for performing arts education, which totaled $69.9 million in 2017.
Giving to museums.
In 2017, museums benefited from 3,461 grants totaling $752 million awarded by the one thousand largest foundations included in the FC 1000 dataset. Nearly half of funding supported art museums. Among a matched set of funders, grant dollars allocated to museums were down 1% between 2016 and 2017, while the number of grants declined 2%. The largest museum grant in 2017 was a $74.4 million grant from Margie & Robert E. Petersen Foundation to the Petersen Automotive Museum for the preservation of historical items.
Giving to the humanities.
In 2017, the humanities benefited from 1,353 grants totaling $281.7 million awarded by the one thousand largest foundations included in the FC 1000 dataset.4 Funding for this area accounted for 10% of arts grant dollars in 2017, up from the 8% share captured in 2016. Among a matched set of funders, grant dollars awarded for the humanities increased 7%, while the number of grants awarded declined 2%.
Giving to historic preservation.
Support for historic preservation declined 13% between 2016 and 2017 among a matched set of funders, while the number of grants awarded was up 10%.5 Among the largest grants awarded for historic preservation in the latest year was a $10.7 million grant from the Crawford Taylor Foundation to the Missouri Historical Society for the renovation of Soldiers Memorial in St. Louis. Overall, historic preservation benefited from 1,372 grants totaling $194.3 million in 2017.
Giving to multidisciplinary arts.
The share of arts giving for multidisciplinary arts went up to 11% in 2017 from 7% in 2016.6 Grant dollars awarded for multidisciplinary arts also increased 16% between 2016 and 2017 among the matched set of funders. Among the various subcategories of multidisciplinary arts, arts education (excluding performing arts education) totaled $81 million in the latest year.
Giving to the visual arts.
Among a matched set of funders, grant dollars for the visual arts and architecture increased slightly (by 1%) between 2016 and 2017, while the number of grants for the field was down 1%. The visual arts and architecture benefited from $195 million in 2017, including an $18.7 million general support grant from the John J. and Mary R. Schiff Foundation to Fotofocus, a Cincinnati-based nonprofit arts organization that supports photography and lens-based art through exhibitions and public programming.
TABLE 1: Distribution of grants by support strategy, 2017
|Support strategy||Dollar amount||%||No. of grants||%|
|Capacity-building and technical assistance||150,875,349||5.4||607||3.2|
|Capital and infrastructure||521,488,043||18.7||1,263||6.7|
|Building and renovations||271,048,764||7.8||307||1.6|
|Collections management and preservation||91,379,827||3.3||41||0.2|
|Other capital and infrastructure||86,410,708||3.1||551||2.9|
|Other financial sustainability||28,255,465||1.0||316||1.7|
|Individual development and student aid||81,285,332||2.9||596||3.2|
|Leadership and professional development||27,747,419||1.0||123||0.7|
|Network-building and collaboration||79,795,328||2.9||359||1.9|
|Policy, advocacy, and systems reform||80,712,934||2.9||296||1.6|
|Ethics and accountability||6,459,274||0.2||9||–|
|Public policy and systems reform||12,917,445||0.5||25||0.1|
|Other policy, advocacy, and systems reform||41,627,463||1.5||75||0.4|
|Publishing and productions||237,272,159||8.5||2129||11.4|
|Product and service development||2,524,741||0.1||12||0.1|
|Public engagement and marketing||152,902,352||5.5||554||3.0|
|Research and evaluation||76,590,166||2.7||276||1.5|
|Other specified strategies||100,470,793||3.6||436||2.3|
Source: Candid, 2019. Based on all grants of $10,000 or more awarded by 1,000 of the largest foundations representing approximately half of total giving by all US foundations. Grants may occasionally be for multiple support stategies, e.g., for new works and for endowment, and would thereby be counted twice.
Grants by Support Strategy
An important caveat to report with regard to the allocation of foundation dollars by specific support strategy is that for roughly one-fifth of arts grant dollars in the 2017 Candid sample, the support strategy could not be identified. This means that modest differences in percentages may not be reliable.7
The arts compared to other foundation fields of giving.
The three largest categories of support tracked by Candid are general operating support, program support, and capital support.
General operating support received the largest share of arts grants dollars in 2017 (26% of all arts funding). The shares of grant dollars and number of grants allocated for this support strategy in 2017 were higher for arts and culture (26% and 27%, respectively) than the overall share directed to general operating support by FC 1000 foundations, which accounted for roughly 20% of grant dollars and 22% of the number of grants.
Program support accounted for the second largest share of arts grant dollars in 2017 (24% of all arts funding). Special programs and projects typically receive one of the largest shares of arts and culture grant dollars and grants. In fact, the same is true in most of the major fields, such as health and education, where program support consistently accounts for one of the largest shares of funding.
Capital support accounted for the third largest share of arts grant dollars. Similar to general support, the share of grant dollars allocated for this type of support was also higher for arts and culture (19%) than for grants overall (8%). Grants for capital support are larger on average than awards for program and general operating support, and exceptionally large capital grants can have a pronounced effect on the distribution of funding by support strategy.
Arts grants by specific types of support.
Table 1 provides a breakdown of more specific support strategies within the larger support categories and lists both the specific dollar value and number of grants made in each type. As for all data in the “snapshot,” it is important to keep in mind that this table includes only grants of $10,000 or more awarded to organizations by a sample of the top one thousand foundations by total giving. It is also important to note that about one-fifth of the arts grant dollars in this sample did not have a specified support strategy.
TABLE 2: Arts grants by grant size, 2017
|Grant range||No. of grants||%||Dollar amount||%|
|$5 million and over||57||0.3||$670,096,143||24.1|
|$1 million – under $5 million||439||2.3||731,115,048||26.2|
|$500,000 – under $1 million||553||2.9||354,167,167||12.7|
|$100,000 – under $500,000||3,261||17.4||622,304,373||22.3|
|$50,000 – under $100,000||2,879||15.4||178,128,681||6.4|
|$25,000 – under $50,000||4,100||21.9||126,293,836||4.5|
|$10,000 – under $25,000||7,457||39.8||103,218,376||3.7|
Source: Candid, 2019. Based on all grants of $10,000 or more awarded by 1,000 of the largest foundations representing approximately half of total giving by all US foundations.
Grants by Grant Size
Median grant size.
The median or “typical” grant amount for arts and culture in 2017 was $27,500, which was below the median amount for all foundation grants ($35,000).8 While this is the third consecutive year that the median arts grant amount has exceeded $25,000,9 more study would be required to determine whether this is a lasting upswing in the size of arts grants.
Small and mid-sized grants.
Roughly two-thirds (62%) of all arts grants in the 2017 sample, shown in table 2, were for amounts between $10,000 and $49,999, nearly unchanged from the 2016 share. The share of mid-sized arts grants ($50,000 to $499,999) also remained fairly consistent, accounting for about one-third of arts grants.
The share of larger arts grants ($500,000 and over) remained consistent, between 5 and 6% of the total number of arts grants in 2017. Their share of total grant dollars remained the same, accounting for 63%. Overall, foundations in the sample made 126 arts grants of at least $2.5 million in 2017, down from 141 grants in 2016.
In addition to the $59 million award from the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation to the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, examples of especially large grants in 2017 include the Lilly Endowment’s $10 million grant to the International African American Museum; an $8.9 million grant from the Wallace Foundation to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America to support Wave II of the Youth Arts Initiative, which helps low-income, urban youth engage in high-quality arts education programs in pilot Boys & Girls Clubs sites; and a $5.8 million award from the Alphawood Foundation to University of London to support the Southeast Asian art academic program.
TABLE 3. Twenty-five largest arts, culture, and media funders, 2017
|Rank||Foundation||State||Number of arts grants||Arts grant dollars||Total grant dollars||Arts as percent of total dollars||Arts capital support dollars||Arts other support dollars|
|1.||Andrew W. Mellon Foundation||NY||288||$168,803,030||$280,287,015||60.2||$9,777,300||$167,188,030|
|2.||Greater Kansas City Community Foundation||MO||121||88,521,183||221,119,333||40.0||77,773||3,908,557|
|3.||Margie & Robert E. Petersen Foundation||CA||3||75,299,425||103,114,425||73.0||74,391,600||907,825|
|4.||John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation||IL||42||61,680,000||432,940,573||14.2||500,000||61,680,000|
|5.||Bloomberg Family Foundation||NY||27||61,679,792||432,636,818||14.3||37,229,961||29,463,792|
|6.||Windgate Charitable Foundation||AR||132||49,649,311||88,607,884||56.0||17,997,377||31,206,303|
|10.||Walton Family Foundation||AR||67||32,013,157||497,200,253||6.4,||478,000||30,545,157|
|12.||The New York Community Trust||NY||381||31,206,040||204,227,030||15.3||6,097,640||23,468,310|
|13.||The Columbus Foundation||OH||293||28,579,138||144,869,670||19.7||59,533||25,902,526|
|14.||Community Foundation of Greater Memphis||TN||159||28,081,004||166,109,625||16.9||14,310,762||12,438,932|
|15.||Silicon Valley Community Foundation||CA||313||26,837,852||1,916,606,397||1.4||–||2,229,401|
|16.||The Chicago Community Trust||IL||282||25,915,205||295,060,196||8.8||20,000||2,121,558|
|17.||John Templeton Foundation||PA||50||25,470,459||126,987,131||20.1||–||18,243,286|
|18.||The Shubert Foundation||NY||501||25,405,000||26,745,000||95.0||–||25,240,000|
|19.||Moody Scholars Program
The Moody Foundation
|20.||John S. and James L. Knight Foundation||FL||106||25,006,423||104,725,212||23.9||2,550,000||19,861,707|
|21.||The Freedom Foundation||DC||1||24,363,267||31,221,707||78.0||–||24,363,267|
|23.||The Brown Foundation||TX||172||23,499,885||58,353,827||40.3||14,323,030||19,741,515|
|25.||W.K. Kellogg Foundation||MI||39||21,162,976||388,451,224||5.4||900,000||20,763,976|
Source: Foundation Center by Candid, 2019. Based on all grants of $10,000 or more awarded by 1,000 of the largest foundations representing approximately half of total giving by all US foundations. Grants may provide capital support and other types of support. In these cases, grants would be counted in both totals. Figures include only grants that could be coded as providing specific types of support.
The twenty-five largest arts funders.
Table 3 shows that the top twenty-five arts funders by giving amount provided 38% of the total arts dollars in Candid’s 2017 sample, below the 40% share from 2016. Overall, the share of giving accounted for by the top twenty-five arts funders has fluctuated between 33% and 40% since the end of the 1990s.
Top foundations by share of arts giving out of overall giving.
Of the foundations that committed large percentages of their grant dollars to arts and culture, many are the smaller foundations in the sample, represented in table 4. Among the top one hundred foundations ranked by share of arts giving out of total giving, about half (forty-six) gave less than $5 million in total arts grant dollars in 2017.
TABLE 4. Top 35 foundations by share of arts giving out of overall giving, 2017
|Rank||Foundation||State||Fdn Type*||Number of arts grants||Arts grant dollars||Total grant dollars||Arts as percent of total dollars||Arts capital support dollars**||Arts other types of support dollars**|
|2.||The Nasher Foundation||TX||OP||1||5,200,000||5,200,000||100.0||–||–|
|3.||Johnson Art and Education Foundation||NJ||IN||2||2,272,534||2,272,534||100.0||–||2,272,534|
|4.||The Smart Family Foundation||NY||IN||1||71,151||71,151||100.0||–||71,151|
|5.||Jerome Foundation, Inc.||MN||IN||73||3,542,320||3,586,720||98.8||–||3,500,320|
|6.||The Walt and Lilly Disney Foundation||CA||IN||6||9,280,565||9,465,565||98.0||–||8,890,565|
|7.||The SHS Foundation||NY||IN||46||5,695,000||5,830,000||97.7||–||835,000|
|8.||Howard Gilman Foundation||NY||IN||185||20,440,000||20,940,000||97.6||6,670,000||19,490,000|
|9.||The Shubert Foundation, Inc.||NY||IN||501||25,405,000||26,745,000||95.0||–||25,240,000|
|11.||Lloyd Rigler Lawrence E. Deutsch Foundation||CA||IN||9||6,357,420||6,730,980||94.5||–||–|
|12.||The Florence Gould Foundation||NY||IN||26||9,229,849||10,012,116||92.2||7,235,000||7,844,849|
|14.||Dunard Fund USA||IL||CS||16||9,798,276||10,711,500||91.5||–||9,788,276|
|15.||The Philecology Foundation||TX||IN||1||14,013,959||15,513,959||90.3||–||14,013,959|
|16.||Arison Arts Foundation||FL||IN||22||18,310,289||21,145,289||86.6||–||18,310,289|
|17.||David H. Koch Charitable Foundation||KS||IN||2||15,295,000||17,695,500||86.4||15,000,000||295,000|
|18.||The Daniel and Estrellita Brodsky Family Foundation||NY||IN||11||2,553,000||2,983,580||85.6||–||132,000|
|19.||The Harriet F. Dickenson Foundation||IL||IN||2||1,275,000||1,513,000||84.3||–||1,275,000|
|20.||J. Paul Getty Trust||CA||OP||110||10,378,145||12,340,573||84.1||275,968||10,353,145|
|21.||The Packard Humanities Institute||CA||OP||20||8,254,947||9,848,747||83.8||866,146||7,388,801|
|22.||The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts||NY||IN||125||8,666,318||10,591,418||81.8||–||7,628,818|
|23.||The Lee and Juliet Folger Fund||VA||IN||9||7,955,600||9,790,600||81.3||7,905,600||40,000|
|24.||The Monteforte Foundation||NY||IN||14||7,490,000||9,487,000||79.0||–||7,465,000|
|25.||The Freedom Fund||DC||OP||1||24,363,267||31,221,707||78.0||–||24,363,267|
|26.||The Kovner Foundation||FL||IN||20||21,124,393||27,896,467||75.7||–||330,000|
|27.||Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation||OR||IN||31||1,796,204||2,436,317||73.7||587,704||1,548,704|
|28.||Terra Foundation for American Art||IL||IN||42||7,697,608||10,516,328||73.2||–||5,213,595|
|29.||Margie & Robert E. Petersen Foundation||CA||IN||3||75,299,425||103,114,425||73.0||74,391,600||907,825|
|30.||Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation||CA||IN||77||6,220,000||8,667,000||71.8||–||63,500|
|31.||The Frist Foundation||TN||IN||15||8,090,000||11,684,580||69.2||2,940,000||5,160,000|
|32.||John J. and Mary R. Schiff Foundation||OH||IN||13||20,865,500||32,030,500||65.1||–||20,865,500|
|34.||Daniel and Joanna S. Rose Fund||NJ||IN||10||401,190||964,485||63.2||–||321,190|
|35.||Samuel H. Kress Foundation||NY||IN||47||1,896,057||3,018,917||62.8||–||279,750|
Source: Foundation Center by Candid, 2019. Based on all grants of $10,000 or more awarded by 1,000 of the largest foundations representing approximately half of total giving by all US foundations.
* IN = Independent; OP = Operating; CS = Corporate
** Grants may provide capital support and other types of support. In these cases, grants would be counted in both totals. Figures include only grants that could be coded as providing specific types of support.
Giving for International Cultural Exchange
Grant dollars supporting international cultural exchange was down 30% between 2016 and 2017 among a matched subset of funders. In 2017, foundations awarded 100 grants related to international cultural exchange totaling $16.3 million. Among the larger awards was a $1.7 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the British Museum to support further development of Researchspace, a collaborative online environment for arts and cultural heritage research and knowledge exchange.
Reina Mukai currently serves as manager on the Global Projects & Partnerships team at Candid (formerly Foundation Center and GuideStar). In this role, she works on a range of research and data-driven projects. Mukai has authored numerous reports on national, regional, and special-topic trends in the field of philanthropy, among them, Giving in Illinois, Arts Funding Snapshot: GIA’s Annual Research on Support for Arts and Culture, and the Key Fact Sheet series. She also works with partners on custom data consulting services and research projects.
- See https://taxonomy.candid.org/subjects
- Candid’s 2017 FC 1000 set includes all of the grants of $10,000 or more reported by one thousand of the largest US independent, corporate, community, and grantmaking operating foundations by total giving. For community foundations, the set includes only discretionary grants and donor-advised grants (when provided by the funder). The set excludes grants to individuals. This set accounts for approximately half of giving by all of the roughly 86,000 active US grantmaking foundations. Grant amounts may represent the full authorized amount of the grant or the amount paid in that year, depending on the information made available by each foundation.
- Between 2016 and 2017 the composition of the FC 1000 has changed, which could distort year-to-year fluctuations in grant dollars targeting specific issue areas. To account for these potential distortions year to year, Candid has analyzed changes in giving based on a subset of 845 funders for which we had 2016 and 2017 data.
- Included within the humanities is funding for art history, history and archaeology, classical and foreign languages, linguistics, literature, philosophy, and theology.
- Includes support for archaeology, art history, modern and classical languages, philosophy, ethics, theology, and comparative religion.
- Includes support for multidisciplinary centers, arts councils, artist’s services, arts administration, arts exchange, and arts education.
- The grant records available to Candid often lack the information necessary to identify the support strategy. For example, it is often the case that the only source of data on grants is the 990-PF tax return, and this tends to be less complete than other forms of grant reporting.
- The median — meaning that half of the grants are above and half are below the amount — is generally acknowledged to be a more representative measure of the typical grant than the mean or “average,” because the median is not influenced by extreme high or low amounts.
- Prior to 2015, the median amount had remained consistent at $25,000 since the early 1990s.