Our Revels Now Are Ended

Absent government largesse, and with hard times reducing individual contributions, America’s big philanthropic foundations will matter more than ever. But here our story becomes complexly entwined with a new world of identity politics and social justice reform, diversity, and inclusivity. A decade ago, a pivotal study commissioned by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy reconsidered foundation giving to nonprofit arts and cultural institutions. “The majority of arts funding supports large organizations with budgets greater than $5 million,” the report summarized. “Such organizations, which comprise less than 2 percent of [all] arts and cultural nonprofits, receive more than half of the sector’s total revenue. These institutions focus primarily on Western European art forms, and their programs serve audiences that are predominantly white and upper income. Only 10 percent of grant dollars made with a primary or secondary purpose of supporting the arts explicitly benefit underserved communities. … And less than 4 percent focus on advancing social justice goals.” Also, the staffing of these organizations, and of their boards, was overwhelmingly white. A mandate for urgent change was identified and enforced.

Read the entire article in The American Scholar.