Seattle Arts Report: Corporate Gifts Down Most
March 10, 2009, Seattle Times — The recession is hitting Puget Sound arts and cultural organizations hard, calling for bold steps to manage through the crisis, a study of local arts groups found.
Endowments and contributions are down anywhere from 5 to 50 percent.
Corporate contributions have fallen 20 to 50 percent overall, and in several cases dropped completely. Gifts from foundations and individuals have declined less, anywhere from 10 to 25 percent, the report shows.
The 24-page study, commissioned by the Seattle Mayor's Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, the Seattle Foundation, Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and 4Culture, was written by Helicon Collaborative based on confidential interviews with representatives of 28 cultural-organization leaders in January.
While some organizations are actively addressing the crisis, others are responding more cautiously and still others "seem to be in denial," the report said.
The report identified ways donors could collaborate to help the arts sector, such as setting up a revolving loan fund and a collective investment for technology.
Donors could also help support the arts without spending any money — by cutting application paperwork, extending current grants another year, offering loan guarantees or lines of credit, and encouraging arts groups to share resources and work with nonprofits outside the arts.
Arts groups could do a better job of communicating and collaborating on both programs and resources, according to the report.
"This study provides valuable insight for both cultural groups and funders about how we can work together to emerge stronger, be more nimble and be better equipped to address these economic challenges moving forward," said Susan Coliton, vice president of the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.
Many arts organizations were still evaluating the findings Monday. At the Seattle Opera, corporations contribute 2 to 3 percent of the budget, and those contributions have fallen. It takes 10 to 15 individual donors to make up for just one corporate gift, said Kelly Tweedale, the nonprofit's executive director.
But the story isn't all about money and efficiency.
One thing missing was the fact that "the arts are unique in giving hope and perspective to the human condition," Tweedale said. "The report wasn't hopeful and didn't talk about that unique aspect of what we do that could be leveraged."