Arts/Culture

A Metropolitan Opera High Note, as Donations Hit $182 Million
October 11, 2011

According to preliminary figures released for the first time, the Metropolitan Opera hauled in $182 million, an astonishing amount in a tough economic climate and 50 percent more than it raised just the year before. And for the first time in seven years, the Met had balanced its budget, thanks partly to $11 million in profits last year from its HD movie theater transmissions, which had been operating for only five years.

Arts Funding Doesn't Show Diversity, Report Finds
October 10, 2011

Billions of dollars in arts funding is serving a mostly wealthy, white audience that is shrinking while only a small chunk of money goes to emerging art groups that serve poorer communities that are more ethnically diverse, according to a report released Monday.

The report from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, a watchdog group, shows foundation giving has fallen out of balance with the nation's increasingly diverse demographics. The report was provided to The Associated Press before its release.

A $10 million gift for Franklin Institute, from a onetime 'bad kid'
October 3, 2011

Nicholas Karabots hadn't been to the Franklin Institute in decades when, several months ago, he accepted an invitation to stop in.
Karabots felt a deep connection; he himself was once an inner-city kid — "a bad kid," said the former South Bronx gang member — which informs his philanthropic decisions to this day. Relatively quickly, he and his wife, Athena, decided to give the Franklin Institute $10 million.

It is the largest gift in the institute's history, according to leaders.

MetLife Foundation & TCG Announce 4th Round of A-ha! Program Recipients
August 25, 2011

MetLife Foundation and Theatre Communications Group (TCG) announce the fourth round of recipients for the MetLife/TCG A-ha! Program: Think It, Do It, which supports the creative thinking and action of TCG member theatres with the goal of impacting the larger theatre community. Five theatres were awarded grants, totaling $225,000, to either research and develop new ideas or experiment and implement innovative concepts.

The 2011 MetLife/TCG A-ha! Program recipients are Perseverance Theatre, Center for New Performance at CalArts, Curious Theatre Co., Salvage Vanguard Theater and The Wooster Group.

Innovative Fundraising: Iowa Arts Center Sells Naming Rights to Its Toilets
August 24, 2011

Legion Arts, an Iowa nonprofit arts organization that recently renovated its flood-damaged social hall, is selling naming rights to its new toilets, complete with decorative plaques to be placed above each facility, for $1,000 a pop. The Des Moines Register reports that while supplies last, donors can even choose their particular comfort station.

An Ames, Iowa public radio station used a similar strategy a few years ago, offering donors the opportunity to name a chicken at Living History Farms in Des Moines in return for a $35 donation.

Jeff Bezos gives $10 million, MOHAI's biggest gift ever
August 18, 2011

Jeff Bezos, the self-made billionaire who started Amazon.com out of a Bellevue, Wash., garage and built it into the world's dominant online retailer over the past two decades, has given $10 million to the Museum of History & Industry to establish a "Center for Innovation" at MOHAI's new location on South Lake Union.

The gift is the largest in the museum's 59-year history. It also is the most visible sign yet of personal giving by Bezos, who is better known for spending money on space exploration and other business investments than on local philanthropic activities.

Sacramento Opera, Philharmonic explore possible merger
August 18, 2011

The leaders of the Sacramento Opera and Sacramento Philharmonic are discussing a merger as a way to secure their futures — and potentially grow — despite a troubled economy.

Like other organizations that have gone down this road, they are learning there are pitfalls as well as benefits. Marc Scorca has seen it all in his years as president of Opera America.

"There are a number of factors to consider, like the issue of loyalty to an art form among donors," Scorca said. "Blending the two can be less appealing to everyone than the individual identity over which they are passionate."

Four Ways Arts Nonprofits Weather Tough Times
August 15, 2011

In 2009, when the recession was in full swing, the Washington Business Journal did a story on five new nonprofit theaters in the Washington, D.C. area: The Hub, Doorway Arts Ensemble, Ambassador Theater, Factory 449, and theHegira. The article highlighted how these five organizations “defied the recession” by making it through their first year. Now, two years later and with 12 additional theater companies in the area, a recent follow-up story provides an update on these theaters, all still in operation, and offers a list of four tips for small arts organizations navigating similarly challenging courses:

Museum of Fine Arts asks glass tower's admirers to help buy it
July 28, 2011

The Museum of Fine Arts launched a campaign to raise more than $1 million to buy the “Lime Green Icicle Tower.’’

The MFA quietly began the campaign last week by adding a donation box next to the piece and sending an e-mail to museum members pointing them to the contribution website. This week, they plan to add tweets and Facebook posts to spread the word.

The MFA’s public appeal includes, for the first time, a chance for museum visitors to give online and by texting on their phones.