Research & Resources: arts and culture
Nonprofits that own or operate historic facilities often struggle to cover the high costs of maintenance and repair of these properties, and many do not adequately "fund" depreciation. This case study tells us the story of how The Boston Center for the Arts (BCA) developed a new financial model and operations plan to secure the future of its beautiful facilities.
New York's Film Forum had raised more than half of a $4 million endowment, substantially from a handful of very large contributors passionately devoted to film and to Film Forum. Broadening that circle of donors was among the key challenges faced by the organization in 2002. Examine the film house's accomplishments and the choices that still lie ahead.
By returning sacred objects from its collection to tribal communities, the National Museum of the American Indian is redefining museum practices around the management of culturally sensitive materials. Explore how museum/tribal cooperation has contributed to the continuity of American Indian culture and community.
In this 2001 study, NFF and AEA Consulting analyzed the space and capacity-building needs of the
Philadelphia dance community, which, at the time, did not have a theater or primary locus for the dance community to rehearse, congregate, and exhange ideas. Funding for this study was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the William Penn Foundation. The report details the areas that need to be strengthened to develop the positive momentum of recent years.
These case studies tell the story of each of the ten participants in the Leading for the Future Initiative (LFF), a 5-year program generously supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. NFF launched LFF to address nonprofit mis-capitalization by deploying 'change capital' to help arts organizations adapt their programming, operations and finances in ways that improve their long-term health. Versions of these case studies with video and other content are available at nonprofitfinancefund.org/LFF/Profiles.
Ballet Memphis is a pioneer of the regional ballet movement, which has become an essential and dynamic element of the dance ecosystem. Find out how it became a thriving company within a community that had not historically supported ballet. Witness how it continues to evolve artistically while remaining relevant to the community.
Western Folklife Center in Elko, Nevada has developed a national following through its annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. How did the Center draw on the popularity of this event to attract supporters from around the country to sustain its overall programming? Explore how the Center has successfully navigated the sometimes rocky road of cultivating donors and members who may only pass through its doors once each year.
In 2002, the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center was in the midst of a capital campaign, raising support from individual contributors at every income level. The fundraising drive revolved around a religious icon that embodied the spirit of the campaign and of the institution. See how the Center's leaders worked to make their vision a reality.
On the Boards (OtB) is recognized as a leader in contemporary performance. As with so many nonprofits that expand, growing pains were inevitable. In 1998, a wonderful performance space was for sale, and OtB found the support to purchase and renovate it. Though their audiences loved it, revenue couldn't cover the increased expenses of the new facility. See how their participation in NFF's Mid-Sized Presenting Organizations (MPO) Initiative helped them turn around.
During two fundraising campaigns, the Japanese American National Museum raised tens of millions of dollars from families and individuals who are neither wealthy nor accustomed to making large donations. Read the story of how and why the Museum succeeded.
Studies & Reports
The Case for Change Capital in the Arts shares the philosophy governing the Leading for the Future Initiative and discusses the need for and application of change capital in the arts. It also outlines core principles and practices that can improve capitalization in the sector but that will require changes in behavior by both nonprofits and funders alike. The piece tells how each of the participating organizations is applying change capital to undertake meaningful artistic, organizational and financial change.
Change Capital in Action: Lessons from Leading Arts Organizations shares the results of Leading for the Future (LFF), a five-year program that has invested change capital in ten leading performing arts organizations to support and sustain their business and artistic adaptation. It features principles of the LFF initiative, profiles of individual change efforts, participants financial and program outcomes, and lessons relevant for arts organizations and funders alike.
Facilities dominate arts operations to an extent rarely seen in any sector. Arts organizations are three times as asset-intensive as the American steel industry. Their facilities are technically complex, expensive and time-consuming to build and maintain. While appropriate facilities are intrinsic to the health of arts organizations, we treat them as if they were peripheral. This denial means that we spend millions annually--intentionally or not--to build and maintain an enormous asset base without acknowledging or providing for it. We tend to ignore the demands facilities place on artists and arts organizations and their impact over time. The results are costly.
Facilities dominate arts operations to an extent rarely seen in any sector. In this report, concluded in 1994, we explore the facility-related needs of arts organizations, which were, at the time, three times more asset-intensive than the American steel industry. The report also includes an evaluation of the quality and quantity of capital resources available to serve the arts and the potential to improve those resources.
Join Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Center Theatre Group as we explore how each is using this special kind of investment to attract, develop and engage new audiences in creative and lasting ways. We’ll discuss what each organization is learning about new approaches to programming, the theatergoing experience, marketing and engagement techniques, and the role of young artists in attracting the next generation of patrons.
See our webinar on how "Change Capital" can help transform arts organizations. The discussion includes brief presentations from The Wooster Group and Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation, 2 of the 10 companies participating in NFF's Leading for the Future Initiative, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. In the webinar, we discuss how to:
- Build a "risk reserve" fund for greater artistic freedom
- Stabilize earned income
- Generate incremental new revenue
- Expand audiences
Learn about how SITI Company, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, and Ping Chong & Company are building and sustaining more reliable revenue to support their cultural programming during a time of unprecedented artistic and economic flux. Discover how these organizations are investing Change Capital to:
- Invest in new marketing and development capacity
- Stabilize and grow earned income
- Attract new foundation revenue
- Strengthen individual donor bases
In 2008, with leadership and support from its legendary founder and choreographer Merce Cunningham, the Cunningham Dance Foundation began laying the groundwork for its momentous closure after Merce was no longer able to work. Five years later, after a farewell worldwide Legacy Tour that culminated with final performances in New York City, the organization has ceased operation, provided career transition support for dancers and staff, and transferred its archival assets—including carefully curated digital “dance capsules” for each of its major works—to the Cunningham Trust. In this interactive webinar, you will hear their groundbreaking story, learn about the catalytic role played by flexible capital and ponder the implications of their exit for the field at large.
This worksheet customizes the long version of NFF's Self-Assessment worksheet to the specific needs of arts organizations. If you answer Yes to many questions, you’re likely weathering the current economic climate well and have a good grasp of your financial dynamics. If you’re answering No or Not Sure often, you may want to review what actions you are or could be taking to manage areas of concern. With support from your funders, NFF can help you interpret the results and consider next steps.