Arts Sustainability

Undercapitalization of Local Arts Organizations

The arts are central to the Greater New Haven’s identity. A rich diversity of theatre, music, dance, museums, galleries, and studios draw significant audiences from within the region and around the world. The region’s large and small arts organizations create for one another an interdependent ecosystem, cultivating audiences and donors and providing opportunities for both artistic expression and employment to artists.


The arts are also a cohesive force for our diverse community. They contribute to a high quality of life. They play a vital role in the education of our young people. And they bring vibrancy to our downtowns where their audiences spend money on local businesses.1

Recent trends, however, signal a critical need to plan for the future so that the arts ecosystem that this community values so highly continues to grow and flourish. For a variety of reasons, arts organizations are undercapitalized. Government funding at all levels is down2 and corporate sponsorships are drying up.3 And for many arts organizations, their traditional audiences are growing older and declining in number, which decreases revenue from ticket sales and makes fundraising from individual donors more difficult every year.4

Our Leadership Strategy

Building on its long and proud history of supporting the arts5, The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven is taking action to strengthen the local arts ecosystem. This strategic focus is based on a year-long investigation involving surveys, interviews with local arts and culture organizations6 and experts in the field, and research.

The Community Foundation is launching a broad effort to increase financial resources, strengthen anchor institutions and reach new audiences by working with many partners, such as donors and arts organizations.

The Goal

A community that prioritizes the long term sustainability of a vibrant arts sector. 

Through community partnerships, grantmaking and public education, The Community Foundation hopes to achieve the following:
  • Increased awareness of the challenges facing local arts organizations
  • New local funds raised for the arts
  • Grantmaking that prioritizes audience development, audience diversification, technology integration and education
  • Increases in the cash reserves of arts organizations to strengthen and ensure sustainability
  • Continued support for anchor7 organizations, especially general operating support grants and capital needs
Footnotes:
1 The Local Arts Index prepared by the Americans for the Arts reports that in New Haven County the total nonprofit arts expenditures per capita in 2010 were more than $72.  The Index was compiled by Americans for the Arts in 2012 as a tool to better understand the characteristics of the cultural life of individual communities as measured at the county level. It consists of a series of arts indicators measured on the county level, and drawn from a variety of secondary sources including the U.S. Census Bureau, Claritas Research, Scarborough Research, the National Center of Charitable Statistics, and other sources.
2 Grantmakers in the Arts, Public Funding for the Arts: 2012 Update 
3 Based on interviews with fifteen local arts and culture organizations
4 The Americans for the Arts Local Arts Index reports a 22% drop in contributed revenue to New Haven County arts organizations between 2009 and 2010.  
5 Over the last 10 years, The Community Foundation has granted more than $6.3 million to arts and culture organizations from 125 different funds.  These grants were spread over 142 organizations from throughout our 20-town region.
6 Arts Council of Greater New Haven, Artspace, Creative Arts Workshop, CAPA/Shubert, CT Folk Festival, Elm Shakespeare, the International Festival, Long Wharf Theatre, Neighborhood Music School, New Haven Ballet, New Haven Chorale, New Haven Museum, New Haven Symphony, Orchestra New England and Young Audiences/Arts for Learning
7 Anchor organizations are defined as those that are leaders in the local arts community in terms of attracting artists and audiences from within and outside of the local community, providing influence in the presentation of their respective genres and supporting the infrastructure of the arts community as a whole.  In Greater New Haven, these organizations are the Arts Council, Artspace, CAPA/Shubert, International Festival, Long Wharf Theatre, Neighborhood Music School and New Haven Symphony
8 Greater New Haven Community Wellbeing Survey, 2013 by DataHaven
9 The Americans for the Arts Local Arts Index
10 Grantmakers in the Arts, Public Funding for the Arts: 2012 Update 

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