New National Study Shows Dwindling Support for African-American and Latino Arts Organizations

October 19, 2015 by No Comments

Philadelphia Museum of ArtA troubling new study found a notable lack of support for minority arts organizations, adding that the affected communities may need to support fewer organizations in an effort to sustain others.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the University of Maryland’s DeVos Institute of Arts Management commissioned its “Diversity in the Arts” report to appraise the current standing of small arts organizations run by African-Americans and Latinos.

Funders may need to support “a limited number of organizations with larger grants to a smaller cohort that can manage themselves effectively, make the best art, and have the biggest impact on their communities.”

The study goes on to say that, despite the importance of each individual organization’s work, “the majority are plagued by chronic financial difficulties that place severe limits on what can be produced, how much can be produced, how many artists are trained, and how many people are served.”

These findings are in stark contrast to the continued success of larger arts organizations that aren’t tied to any specific ethnicity. In 2014, the Louvre continued to be the most visited museum in the world, drawing over 9.3 million people from around the world.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, a New York-based dance company with a national donor base, is the only minority arts organization listed in the study that reported annual spending of over $5 million between the years of 2009-2013.

Even in 2013, when Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater spent over $35.4 million, they were only the 17th-largest arts organization listed in the study.

According to Non-Profit Quarterly, every single minority arts organization in study had assets valued at under $10 million except for two: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and the Museum of Latin American Art.

Michael Kaiser, the veteran arts administrator who heads the DeVos Institute, feels as if the study should serve as a reminder to Latinos and African-Americans to support their arts organizations and revive the community as a whole.

“It’s a wake-up call,” Kaiser said. “I would like serious arts funders, regardless of their ethnicity, to be thinking about this issue.”

He goes on to say that, while some smaller organizations may be casualties of these findings, it would contribute more to the greater good if funders would focus their donations on more established arts companies.

“It’s not politically easy or palatable, but it’s a potential solution that does need to be considered,” Kaiser said.

“I am concerned that so many organizations are just holding on, with so little resources that they can’t create the size and quality of work that draws more donors and audiences. They get sicker and sicker. If there can’t be more funding, some funders will have to make choices.”

One can only hope that this discussion leads to changes that strengthen African-American and Latino organizations enough to garner larger audiences and sustain themselves financially.

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