Now here’s a shocker: apparently most of the arts philanthropy in this country goes to big organizations. Who’da thunk it, huh? Who would imagine that arts funding in underserved communities, particularly communities of color, would lag behind donations to institutions serving wealthy white people?
Obviously, study authors from the Committee for Responsive Philanthropy need to keep making this point if the situation is ever to be rectified; but sometimes I think the money spent on documenting the situation in the arts would be better spent on, oh, what’s that called? The arts? For, as it is written, “You don’t fatten a hog by weighing it.”
But the issue does need to be raised, because attacks on the arts as “elitist” are only valid if the only arts groups getting support are the ones preferred by the elites. And validating that argument should be the furthest thing from the minds of people who support the arts, whether with their creativity, their attendance or their money.
What to do about it? A word of advice from a fundraising consultant-cum-theater critic (or maybe it’s the other way around): Don’t count the money in other people’s pockets. Don’t presume that your audience is too poor to donate. Ask them! Poor people donate more generously than rich people, and generous gifts to small organizations can make a huge difference.