Investing in Cultural Participation and Financial Sustainability

Investing in Cultural Participation and Financial Sustainability

Efforts to increase cultural participation in lower-income and diverse communities are most successful when combined with direct outreach, market research, and new programming, a report commissioned by the finds. The report, (19 pages, PDF), highlights lessons learned from the foundation's 2009-14 Arts Regional Initiative, which supported the efforts of thirty-six nonprofit arts organizations in Southern California, the Central Valley, and the Central Coast to increase cultural participation and improve their financial stability. Conducted by , the evaluation found that grantees were more interested and successful in deepening cultural participation with existing audiences than in diversifying participation among new and different audiences and that most developed new capacity around increasing participation and improving financial sustainability. Increased capacity did not necessarily ensure improved financial sustainability, however, as most grantees were no better off financially than before the grant period. Given that the initiative coincided with the Great Recession and its aftermath, the report notes, the fact that these organizations did not shut down should be considered a positive outcome.

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