New Audiences | High-Net-Worth Donors | Arts Management Training.

This month I found three topics of interest that you could use for class discussions or in exploring your thinking about audience development, fundraising, and increasing the capacity and impact of small to medium-sized arts organizations.

Technology and Audience Development

The technology that makes it possible to digitally capture live arts performances sounds interesting. The software enables arts organizations to expand their reach and help overcome the obvious limitations inherent with live place-specific events. The report cited low attendance at these events and issues with promoters who were slow to act on this opportunity plus some software problems. It seems this article would make an interesting topic to discuss in connection with the chapter on adaptive organizations (Ch. 4). For example, the use of this technology could be of assistance to small arts organizations trying to expand their audiences. The findings from this report to the Arts Council England (ACE) indicate the demographic profile of the audiences was similar to those who were already attending live arts events. These results shouldn’t be surprising given that an interest in and attending arts events is an acquired taste. Offering a live-to-digital performance of an opera or ballet is not likely to create demand if there is no effort made to interest, cultivate, inform, and educate potential attendees in a community.

High-Net-Worth Donors

The Bank of America U.S. Trust program issues its High Net-Worth Philanthropy study every two years in the fall. For this year, the median annual household income of the survey population (1646 U.S. households net worth over $1 mil, excluding home value) was $350,000, and the median net worth was $2 million. The full report contains many points of interest, not the least of which was that only 17% of the survey group indicated that they were always motivated by the tax benefits of giving. According to the report, 24% of the households gave to arts and culture which constituted just 2% of the total giving.

There are several discussion topics that could be explored related to the report findings. For example, on page 43, there is a graph showing 86% gave directly from their assets and income and only 7% donated through Donor Advised Funds or DAFs. Meanwhile, Giving USA noted that in “2016, overall charitable giving in this country grew 2.7 percent over the previous year. In that same time, contributions to DAFs grew 7.6%, which is almost triple the overall charitable giving growth rate.” The growth of giving by high-net-worth households to DAFs is worth watching. Another subject to discuss would be how arts fundraisers should go about leveraging the information in this report into actions they could take to increase giving. There could also be some discussion around how philanthropy is evolving in America and around the world. A big topic, yes, but students in arts management programs today will be grappling with giving challenges that are taking form today, and that will impact giving over the next 30 years.

Bloomberg Philanthropies at Work

The American Cities Initiative funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies includes multiple programs designed to support “U.S. cities at a time when they face steep challenges, and when the nation needs them to power solutions that move the country forward.” The Arts Innovation & Management (AIM) initiative and the Public Art Challenge are two of 20 areas being funded by the foundation. The two-year AIM grants are unrestricted and can be used for general operating support and arts management training. This initiative would make a good discussion topic connected to fundraising (Ch. 12), to organizational adaptation (Ch. 4), and planning (Ch. 5). Conversations could cover methods for building organizational stability and capacity, examining how donor programs shape the way arts organizations function, and the potential, challenges, and promise related to strengthening regional arts ecosystems.


‘Live to digital’ screenings aren’t diversifying audiences, research finds

Arts Professional News | Author(s): Christy Romer | 11/2/2018

The growing trend of digitally capturing live arts performances and showing them online or in cinemas, community centres and village halls around the country is not yet attracting audiences different to those that attend similar events in person, new research has found.

These ‘live to digital’ screenings – which happen either at the same time as the actual performance, or afterwards – were nevertheless found to be popular. Organisations hosting the screenings and the people attending them expressed an interest in this continuing – although a wider take-up is challenged by ongoing capacity and technological barriers across the sector.

Unfilled desires

The findings emerge from two separate pieces of research: a report for Arts Council England (ACE) by MTM consulting, assessing the overall state of live to digital arts across England, and a review of an 18-month project by Cinegi, a digital distribution service, providing cultural content to venues outside of mainstream cinemas. [Read the remainder of the posting at the link below.]

Link to article:

Link to the 88-page report of the research findings:


2018 U.S. Trust Study of High-Net-Worth Philanthropy

November 2018

The 2018 U.S. Trust® Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy1 (the “Study”) is the seventh in a biennual series of reports on the giving and volunteering practices of wealthy households in the United States. Based on a nationally representative random sample of wealthy households, the Study is an authoritative source of information on wealthy Americans’ philanthropic attitudes and practices.

The wealth threshold for inclusion in the Study is a widely recognized standard based on the qualifying level for certain types of financial investments: an annual household income greater than $200,000 and/or net worth greater than $1,000,000 (excluding the value of the primary residence). For this year’s Study population, the median annual household income was approximately $350,000 and the median net worth was $2,000,000 — well above the entry-level threshold.

The total Study population in 2018 comprised 1,646 households. Forty-nine percent of respondents identified themselves as men, while 51% identified themselves as women. [Read the remainder of the U.S. Trust news posting at the link below.]

Link to the 63-page report:


Arts Innovation and Management program (AIM) expanded to seven cities

In May 2018, the Arts Innovation and Management program (AIM) expanded to seven cities including Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Denver, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C., to help small and midsized nonprofit arts organizations build their organizational capacity.


Piloted in New York City in 2011 – then called the Arts Advancement Initiative – and launched nationally in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, and San Francisco in 2015, this invitation-only grant program provides two years of unrestricted general operating support to a wide range of organizations, including theater, visual arts, music, film, literature, and dance.

In addition, grantees participate in a management training program, primarily developed by the DeVos Institute of Arts Management, to improve fundraising, increase audiences, engage board members and develop strategic plans. Grantees are also required to secure matching funds; reach 100 percent board participation in fundraising; and maintain up-to-date information on DataArts, an innovative online management tool that enables users to track and benchmark their performance. [Read the remainder of the Bloomberg Philanthropies news posting and view a video at the link below.]

Link to the announcement about the AIM program:

Link to a news release about AIM expansion in Atlanta, GA.:

Grantee listing: