Support for Individual Artists Timeline

Milestones, Detours, and Roadside Attractions on the Road to Artists Support

This timeline began as a participatory exercise during the 2013 Support for Individual Artists preconference at the GIA conference in Philadelphia as part of a session presented by Ted Berger, treasurer, Joan Mitchell Foundation; Cynthia Gehrig, president, Jerome Foundation; Francis Phillips, program director, Arts and the Creative Work Fund, Walter and Elise Haas Fund; and Holly Sidford, president, Helicon Collaborative. The session examined the roots of private philanthropy’s support for individual artists and the value proposition embodied in it. As a sector of the larger philanthropic ecology, how have we collectively positioned this work and made the case for the individual artist?

A long butcher paper timeline was taped to the wall, and participants were then asked to note not only the dates of the founding of their organizations, but to suggest other significant events in the history of support for individual artists.

The initial timeline was later expanded by Holly Sidford; Cindy Gehrig; and Melissa Franklin, director, Pew Fellowships in the Arts; as well as by Jim McDonald, Tommer Peterson, and SuJ’n Chon on GIA’s staff. As the project grew, we then hired Amanda Hilson, Brooklyn theater artist and researcher, to fill in historic details and fact-check the entries.

The list of funders and public agencies included focuses on GIA members that are known to provide support currently, or did so in the past, to individual artists. We took an inclusive approach to this, as funders’ programs and priorities, of course, have changed over time. As is probably apparent, this timeline grew into a daunting task, and it was difficult to know at times where to draw the line. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of local arts agencies and other funders that provide support to individual artists that are not represented.

We finally decided to think of this as a work-in-progress and publish this version as you see it here. We are interested in your feedback, comments, additions, and corrections. The nature of this type of information is ideally suited to a future web publication, and that would provide an opportunity to incorporate new information and expand the story.

Smithsonian Institution
After 10 years of deliberation, Congress accepted the bequest of the late James Smithsonian and established the Smithsonian Institution.
Actors Fund of America
The fund was founded by Albert Marshman Palme, and for 132 years has provided individual theater artists and their families with assistance, including burial plots and accommodations in the Actors Fund home.
American School of Classical Studies, Rome
Cape Cod School of Art, Provincetown, Massachusetts
The first school in the US to teach outdoor figure painting grew into one of the largest art colonies in the world, attracting such luminaries as Childe Hassam, William Paxton, Emile Gruppe, Norman Rockwell, Max Bohm, and Richard Miller.
Utah Arts Council
Brydcliffe Art Colony
1500 acres were purchased for the enterprise by a wealthy Englishman named Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead. By the time it was completed in 1903, 30 buildings stood, comprising what has been referred to as a “textbook example” of a utopian Arts and Crafts community.
American Association of Museums
This organization is now the American Alliance of Museums.
MacDowell Colony
Rhode Island Foundation
Charitable deduction is added to the tax code.
The deduction, initiated largely in response to tax increases passed to fund WWI, has remained in effect since, and is credited with securing participation in philanthropy by people of all income levels.
Surdna Foundation
Rosenwald Fund
Established by Julius Rosenwald, a part-owner of Sears, Roebuck and Co., the foundation made grants directly to African American artists, writers, researchers, and intellectuals until 1948, when it sunsetted, as planned.
Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation
Santa Fe Indian Market
The Indian Fair was originally created by the Museum of New Mexico as part of the Santa Fe Fiesta celebration. For the past 90 years, Santa Fe Indian Market has brought together the most gifted Native American artists with millions of visitors and collectors from around the world.
John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs
San Francisco Arts Commission
Black Mountain College
An educational experiment that lasted from 1933 to 1956, it was one of the first schools to stress the importance of teaching creative arts and the belief that, in combination with technical and alytical skills, the arts are essential to human understanding.
Works Progress Administration
Public service employment programs that were established under the Works Progress Administration were the Federal Writers Program, the Federal Theater Project, the Federal Art Project, and the Federal Music Project. More than 40,000 artists were directly employed by the government.
The James Irvine Foundation
National Guild of Community Music Schools
The Guild changed its name to the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts in 1974 to reflect the growth of multidisciplinary arts programs in its member organizations. In 2010, the Guild changed its name to the National Guild for Community Arts Education.
US Poet Laureate
The Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress serves as the nation’s official lightning rod for the poetic impulse of Americans. During his or her term, the Poet Laureate seeks to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry.
American Music Center
The center merged with Meet the Composer in 2013 to become New Music USA.
United States Organization Inc. (USO)
The USO began providing support to the US military during WWII, largely through the production of the performing arts.
American Symphony Orchestra League
This organization is now known as the League of American Orchestras.
Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual
Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, Inc. is the nation’s oldest Native American cooperative.
The Fulbright Program
The program is an international educational exchange program sponsored by the US government designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.
Skowhegan Art Colony
Skowhegan, an intensive nine-week summer residency program for emerging visual artists, is deeply connected to the explosive energy and elan that characterized postwar American culture.
The San Francisco Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County
John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Walter and Elise Haas Foundation
Bush Foundation
Rasmuson Foundation
Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts
Association of College and University Concert Managers (ACUCM)
This organization became the Association of Performing Arts Presenters in 1988.
Ford Foundation program in arts and humanities
The program was launched by W. McNeil Lowry, who joined the foundation in 1953 and headed its arts and humanities program from 1957 until 1964. Many consider Lowry to be the first professional arts philanthropist.
Mertz Gilmore Foundation
Americans for the Arts
The mission of Americans for the Arts is to serve, advance, and lead the network of organizations and individuals who cultivate, promote, sustain, and support the arts in America.
New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA)
Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation
Theatre Communications Group (TCG)
TCG serves nearly 700 member theaters and affiliate organizations and more than 12,000 individuals.
US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA)
From artists, educators, and athletes to students and the youth in the United States and more than 160 countries, ECA engages rising leaders through academic, cultural, sports, and professional exchanges.
Bronx Council on the Arts
Asian Cultural Council, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Colorado Creative Industries
National Council on the Arts
President Johnson signed the National Arts and Cultural Development Act, which established the National Council on the Arts. One month later, an appropriation of $50,000 was approved for the National Council on the Arts.
Jerome Foundation
National Endowment for the Arts
President Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act, which established the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. An appropriation of $2.5 million was signed on October 31, 1965.
California Arts Council, Indiana Arts Commission, Kentucky Arts Council, Maine Arts Commission, New Mexico Arts, Texas Commission on the Arts, Vermont Arts Council, Nebraska Arts Council, Illinois Arts Council Agency
Alaska State Council on the Arts, Idaho Commission on the Arts, Massachusetts Cultural Council, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, South Dakota Arts Council
Arizona Commission on the Arts, Oregon Arts Commission/Oregon Cultural Trust, South Carolina Arts Commission, Nevada Arts Council, Montana Arts Council, North Dakota Council on the Arts
National Assembly of State Arts Agencies
The organization of state arts agencies provides research, professional development, and advocacy.
Mississippi Arts Commission
National Endowment for the Arts’ first artists fellowships
The first complete series of NEA grants was made in fiscal year 1967, with a budget of nearly $8 million. These early grants illustrate the great range of projects the Arts Endowment has supported since its inception, as well as its expanding reach across the nation.
Delaware Division of the Arts
US Tax Reform Act of 1969
The act established individual and corporate minimum taxes, established a new tax schedule for single taxpayers, and slightly increased standard deductions and personal exemptions. It also established different rules and regulations for nonprofits found by the IRS to be “private foundations,” impacting foundation practices.
OPERA America
This service organization promotes the creation, presentation, and enjoyment of opera in North America.
New York Foundation for the Arts
Mid-America Arts Alliance
Comprehensive Employment Training Act (CETA)
CETA placed artists in communities, creating and training others to create work in a variety of media and locations. Between 1973 and 1981, the US government spent more than $300 million on this jobs program for artists.
Greater Columbus Arts Council, American Composers Forum, Affiliated State Arts Agencies of the Upper Midwest, Great Lakes Arts Alliance
Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF)
An arts agency is in every state!
This year was the first in which all of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, Guam, American Samoa, PR, and the Virgin Islands had an arts agency in operation for the full year.
Association of Arts Administration Educators
DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, South Arts
New England Foundation for the Arts, The Adolph & Esther Gottlieb Foundation
Alternate Regional Organizations of Theater South (Alternate ROOTS)
Alternate ROOTS was founded in New Market, Tennessee, to meet the distinct needs of artists who work for social justice, and artists who create work by, for, about, and within communities of place, tradition, affiliation, and spirit.
Astraea Foundation
Association of Professional Ensembles
This organization became Chorus America in 1993.
Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation
Artspace has expanded its range of activities to include projects in operation or development in more than 20 states across the nation. In all, these projects represent nearly 2,000 live/work units and millions of square feet of nonresidential community and commercial space.
The Dedalus Foundation, MacArthur Fellows Program, National YoungArts Foundation, The McKnight Foundation Arts Program
Dance USA
Dance/USA serves nearly 500 aerial, ballet, modern, culturally specific, jazz, and tap companies, dance service and presenting organizations, individuals, and related organizations.
Asian American Arts Alliance
The Alliance has served to unify, promote and represent the artistic and cultural producers of one of New York City’s fastest-growing ethnic populations.
Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation, Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation
Arts Midwest, The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, St. Louis Regional Arts Commission, Art Matters, Kentucky Foundation for Women, The Herb Alpert Foundation
Craft Emergency Relief Fund (CERF+)
First Grantmakers in the Arts conference is held in St. Paul, Minnesota
Arts grantmakers discouraged by the lack of programming at Council on Foundations conferences held their own meeting. This gathering led to the establishment of GIA as an organization.
The Association of American Cultures (TAAC)
TAAC was founded to provide leadership in achieving equal participation in policymaking, equitable funding for all cultural institutions, an elevation in multicultural leadership, and essential networks that impact cultural policies.
National Performance Network (NPN)
NPN is a national organization supporting artists in the creation and touring of contemporary performing and visual arts.
Guerrilla Girls
Guerrilla Girls is best known for fighting against sexism and racism in the art world by protesting, speaking, and performing while wearing gorilla masks and adopting pseudonyms to hide their identity to avoid repercussions for speaking out against powerful institutions.
Fleishhacker Foundation Eureka Awards
The Montauk Conference (New York Foundation for the Arts)
“Creative Support for the Creative Artist” was a retreat-like meeting sponsored by the New York Foundation for the Arts at Montauk. By design, participants included 150 invited artists, administrators of artist-centered organizations, and funders, both public and private.
Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts
The program has been both proactive in its approach to the field of cultural philanthropy and responsive to the changing needs of artists.
Artist Trust, Arts Council of Indianapolis, Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation
The Orcas Conference (New York Foundation for the Arts)
NYFA’s second retreat conference, “Creative Support for the Creative Artist,” held on Orcas Island in Washington State, gave rise to Arts Wire, the nation’s first arts-focused online network, and initiated conversations among a number of funders that began to solidify the field of support for individual artists.
Publication: Information for Artists I
The report by Joan Jeffri and the Research Center for Arts and Culture was the RCAC’s initial study of artists’ work-related human and social service needs: health care, pension, welfare, credit, live/work space, and legal and financial needs.
Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation
Robert Mapplethorpe established the not-for-profit Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation some 10 months before his death, to protect his work, to advance his creative vision, and to promote the causes he cared about.
The Culture Wars
Members of Congress critical of the work of Andres Serrano and Robert Mapplethorpe sponsored a bill that would prohibit the agency from using funds for the “dissemination, promotion, or production of obscene or indecent materials or materials denigrating a particular religion.” The amendment did not pass, but Congress did reach a compromise on the NEA’s 1990 appropriations bill containing restrictions affecting NEA grantmaking procedures.
National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC)
NALAC is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization exclusively dedicated to the promotion, advancement, development, and cultivation of Latino art.
Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) is incorporated.
GIA incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation to enable its financial and organizational growth.
National Campaign for Freedom of Expression (NCFE)
NCFE was founded in response to attacks on the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and artistic freedom occurring at local and national levels. By providing resources, information, and technical assistance, NCFE empowered artists and arts organizations to help themselves, enabling them to mobilize their own communities in defense of artistic freedom.
Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990
This truth-in-advertising law prohibits misrepresentation in marketing of American Indian or Alaska Native arts and crafts products within the United States including criminal penalties up to $250k or a 5-year prison term.
Robert Rauschenberg Foundation
Culture Wars: The NEA Four
Grants to artists Karen Finley, Tim Miller, John Fleck, and Holly Hughes were overtly vetoed on the basis of subject matter after the artists had successfully passed through a peer review process. The artists sued, and won their case in court in 1993 and were awarded amounts equal to the grant money in question. The case made its way to the US Supreme Court in National Endowment for the Arts v. Finley.
Pew Fellowships in the Arts
Fund for Folk Culture
The Fund for Folk Culture was a public charity dedicated to the dynamic conservation of folk and traditional arts and culture throughout the United States. Although there was no other foundation or service organization in the country with a similar mission, the fund suspended operations in 2009 due to funding challenges.
NYFA’s ArtsWire was an online computer network that brought artists and arts organizations together, providing access to news, information, and dialogue, on the social, economic, philosophical, intellectual, and political conditions affecting the arts and artists.
Alliance of Artists Communities
The Alliance is the national service organization for artists communities and residency programs.
Xeric Foundation
Joan Mitchell Foundation, Leeway Foundation, Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts
Walter and Elise Haas Foundation’s Creative Work Fund
First Peoples Fund
Culture Wars: NEA fellowships are Eliminated.
Following the NEA Four legal case, House Speaker Newt Gingrich had called for the NEA to be eliminated completely along with the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The result was a massive 37% budget cut, 47% staff reduction, and the elimination of all individual artist grants (except the Literature Fellowships, the National Heritage Fellowships, and American Jazz Masters awards).
NYFA Source
The Visual Artist Information Hotline developed by the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation and housed at the American Council for the Arts was transferred to the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) and renamed NYFA Source.
Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Anonymous Was a Woman
Cave Canem
Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady founded Cave Canem to provide African American poets a place of their own in the literary landscape. The community has grown from 26 poets to become an influential movement with a renowned faculty and high-achieving national fellowship of 344.
Network of Ensemble Theaters (NET)
NET exists to propel ensemble theater practice to the forefront of American culture and society.
Publication: Financial Support for Artists
This study by Anne Focke was commissioned by a consortium of funders in response to the restrictions on the NEA for supporting individual artists directly. The idea of support for artists that reached beyond money, including a database of information on artist support, other needed services, advocacy, access to communication tools, and research was put forth in this report.
Artadia, Barr Foundation
Publication: Information on Artists II
An update of the study originally done by Joan Jeffri in 1988, Information on Artists II surveyed artists in Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York, and San Francisco to provide information about the situation of the individual artist living and working in the United States.
Fractured Atlas
Founded by Adam Forest Huttler as a performing arts producer, the organization restructured itself in 2002 as an arts service organization to support artists at every level of the cultural ecosystem.
Tanne Foundation
ArtsKC - Regional Arts Council
Creative Capital
Following the National Endowment for the Arts’ termination of the majority of its individual artist grants, Creative Capital was founded with support from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and 22 additional funders.
Investing in Creativity study
The Ford Foundation and 37 other donors commissioned this study by the Urban Institute to explore the changing landscape of support for artists. The study reported that improving support structures for artists in the United States would entail developing a new understanding and appreciation for who artists are and what they do, as well as financial resources from a variety of stakeholders.
Artists’ Legacy Foundation
Center for Cultural Innovation, The William H. Johnson Foundation for the Arts
Potlatch Fund
Publication: The Rise of the Creative Class — And How It’s Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life
Richard Florida’s popular examination of the growing role of creativity in the economy and a society in which the creative ethos is increasingly dominant brought new attention to the contributions of artists.
Pabst Charitable Foundation
Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC)
Launched as a ten-year initiative in 2003, LINC was a philanthropic experiment in using information, money, strategy, and partnerships to effect change in the support system for US artists. Between 2003 and 2013, LINC invested in the work of more than 100 partner organizations and disbursed over $18 million to support innovative programs, groundbreaking research, catalytic partnerships, and knowledge sharing.
East Bay Fund For Artists (now East Bay Community Foundation)
Publication: Artistic Dividend: The Arts' Hidden Contributions to Regional Development
Ann Markusen and David King analyzed the economic impact of the arts by looking at how artists’ specialized skills enhance related sectors of the economy, including design, production, teaching, and touring. This study focuses on artists who make a living at artwork and analyzes the kinds of economic strategies that they use to build a career and market their work.
Cultural Data Project (CDP)
CDP was first launched in Pennsylvania through the collaboration of a group of public and private grantmakers and arts advocates who formed the CDP’s Governing Group. Since then CDP has expanded data collection to other regions and continues to grow.
PBS Foundation
Publication: Information on Artists III: San Francisco
Information on Artists III is Joan Jeffri’s 2004 update on the work-related, human and social service needs and realities of artists in the San Francisco Bay Area. It refers to prior studies in 1997 and 1988.
United States Artists
A coalition of leading foundations including Ford, Rockefeller, Prudential, and Rasmuson realized the need for supporting artists in America and made an unprecedented private investment of $22 million in seed funding. The USA Fellows program annually awards $50,000 unrestricted grants to 50 artists across the country in 8 artistic disciplines.
Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage
National Coalition for Arts Preparedness and Emergencies is created through CERF+
CERF+ has played a leading role in a voluntary task force of national, regional, state, and local arts organizations, public agencies, and foundations. The Coalition serves as a communications, education, and advocacy group.
Houston Arts Alliance, Margaret A. Cargill Foundation
Publication: Crossover: How Artists Build Careers across Commercial, Nonprofit and Community Work
This study, led by Ann Markusen, examined the effects of three spheres into which the art world and the general public tend to compartmentalize artists and arts activity (the commercial, nonprofit, and community sectors), and how those perceptions affected artist employment, funding, and artists’ ability to cross between sectors.
Native Arts & Cultures Foundation
Publication: Information on Artists III: Special Focus New York City Aging Artists
This study by Joan Jeffri provided the first needs assessment of aging artists in the New York metro area and sought to understand how artists — who often reach artistic maturity and increased artistic satisfaction as they age — are supported and integrated within their communities and how their network structures change over time.
National Center for Creative Aging (NCAA)
NCAA is dedicated to fostering an understanding of the vital relationship between creative expression and healthy aging, and to developing programs that build upon this understanding.
3Arts, Bellagio Creative Arts Fellows program
Awesome Foundations
Now numbering 105 chapters worldwide, each Awesome Foundation awards unrestricted grants of $1000 every month based on a one-question, one-page application.
Publication: The Artist as Philanthropist: Strengthening the Next Generation of Artist-Endowed Foundations
This study, led by Christine Vincent of the Aspen Institute, sought to define and describe the artist-endowed foundation field in the United States and provides an overview of the artist-endowed foundation field, its origins, current status, trends, and prospects.
Publication: Artists and the Economic Recession Survey: A Summary of Findings
Based on a national survey of 5,380 artists, the study by Alexis Fransz and Holly Sidford reported that most artists struggle to make ends meet financially in tough economic times and that artists are remarkably resourceful in crafting their work lives and creative in responding to the ebbs and flows of opportunity.
ArtPlace America
The initiative is made up of a collaboration of leading national and regional foundations, banks, and federal agencies committed to accelerating creative placemaking by putting art at the heart of a portfolio of strategies designed to revitalize communities.
Sustainable Arts Foundation
Publication: Fusing Arts, Culture, and Social Change: High Impact Strategies for Philanthropy
This study by Holly Sidford for the National Committee for Responsible Philanthropy (NCRP) documented the cultural inequity of private philanthropy and made the case for changing arts and culture funding strategies, suggesting ways that all funders of the arts — regardless of their primary focus — can move toward more inclusive and responsive grantmaking.
Publication: Forks in the Road: The Many Paths of Arts Alumni
Based on responses from more than 13,500 alumni, this study from the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) reported that more than half of visual and performing arts degree program graduates work as professional artists and are satisfied with their career opportunities.
Publication: A Report on the Teaching Artist Research Project: Teaching Artists and the Future of Education
This final report of the Teaching Artists Research Project — a three-year study by Nick Rabkin at NORC at the University of Chicago — is a comprehensive examination of the work and world of teaching artists, reporting that teaching artists are critical to the future of arts education and improving the quality of schools.
Kansas becomes the first state without an arts agency since 1974
Kansas Arts Council was defunded, making it the first state without an arts agency since all 50 states and US territories had established arts agencies. Funds were restored in 2012, and the new Creative Arts Industries Commission was created.
Doris Duke Foundation / Creative Capital Artist Awards
The Doris Duke Artist Awards provide unrestricted/flexible funds and restricted project funds. Additional unrestricted funds are made available to artists who can demonstrate that they have started or increased resources (whether IRAs, SEPs 401(k)s, etc.) that will allow them to continue their creative exploration in their later years.
New Music USA
New Music USA was formed by the merger of the American Music Center and Meet The Composer to provide grant support for the creation and performance of new work and community building throughout the country.
Publication: The Location Patterns of Artistic Clusters: A Metro- And Neighborhood-Level Analysis
This study, published in the journal Urban Studies, takes a close look at the connection between the arts and city building.
Publication: Making It Work: The Education and Employment of Recent Arts Graduates
This report updated the ongoing work of the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project.
Publication: Individual Artist Taxonomy
GIA Publishes National Standard Taxonomy for Reporting Data on Support for Individual Artists.
American Music Project