Grantmakers in the Arts, the national association of private and community foundations, corporate funders, and government agencies that support communities across America by funding nonprofit arts organizations and artists, is writing to express our strong concerns about the proposed changes to the 2020 decennial census, including the Administration’s addition of a question on citizenship status. The 2020 decennial Census, if conducted improperly or incompletely and with the harmful impact of a citizenship question, will severely hamper the ability of our nation’s citizens to fairly benefit from Federal and State programs which support the arts and arts education. The question on citizenship status alone is especially troubling given the impact it will have on the ability of the census to accurately count all those living in and contributing to our nation.
Following the Trump Administration’s 2019 budget request that proposes the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), among other cultural agencies, the foundation presidents who fund ArtPlace released a statement in support of cultural federal agencies and their role in strengthening communities.
“If we lose federal agencies like the National Endowment for the Arts, we will not only lose significant direct investments in communities across all 50 states, we also lose the infrastructure that brings us together as one United States of America,” write the letter’s authors.
This statement follows a letter sent by the Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) board of directors impressing upon Congress the urgent need to support appropriations funding for the NEA, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) at the highest levels proposed by either the House or Senate’s 2018 appropriations bills, and to reject outright the elimination of these agencies as proposed by the budget request.
The board of directors of Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) has requested that Congress support appropriations funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) at the highest levels proposed by either the House or Senate’s 2018 appropriations bills, and to reject the elimination of these agencies as proposed by the Trump Administration’s 2019 budget request.
Larry Kramer, president of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, penned a letter in which he reflects on philanthropy after, what he calls, “a year as tumultuous and unsettling as 2017.” Kramer points out the spirit of a funder’s work, the responsibility to steward tactfully a foundation’s resources, and the adaptations and responses required to navigate changes in the political landscape in the US and abroad.
Tim Delaney, president and CEO of the National Council of Nonprofits, has published an open letter against the tax bill currently under consideration in Congress:
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changes personal exemptions and the standard deduction in a way that effectively denies 95 percent of taxpayers any tax incentive for giving back to their communities. The amount to which tax incentives drive donations can be disputed, but surely it will cut revenues some. Indeed, economists at the Tax Policy Center at the Urban Institute report that the tax change would reduce giving by $13 billion to $20 billion every year. The same group estimates that changes in the estate tax will reduce giving to charitable purposes by another $4 billion.
At the closing plenary of the 2017 GIA Conference, Rip Rapson spoke on how The Kresge Foundation has reasserted its values and called on arts funders and cultural workers to continue to put their own values into action.
“In no time in my memory has it been more important for arts and culture to become part of a larger movement of social justice — helping strengthen the alliances necessary to speak and advance those truths of equity, fairness, and justice that we know to be inviolable.”
The Chronicle of Philanthropy has compiled a list of statements from nonprofit and foundation leaders following the events in Charlottesville, VA, including GIA member Grant Oliphant of The Heinz Endowments. In addition to these, other arts foundation leaders have voiced their responses:
“Even as brazen displays of hatred rightfully appall us, subtle, everyday acts of racism and bigotry need to be rendered just as unacceptable. This is our shared responsibility.”
— Board Chair Meghan Binger Brown and President Kate Wolford, The McKnight Foundation
“Anti-Semitism, like racism, misogyny, homophobia and other forms of hate, are alive and well in American political discourse.”
— Sharon Alpert, The Nathan Cummings Foundation
“Whether through our grantmaking, other ways we can best support our partners, or the use of our own voice, we will remain vigilant about how we can play a role, along with many others, to ensure that hate does not prevail.”
— President James Canales, Barr Foundation
“Where we stand will define us for generations to come.”
— CEO Fred Blackwell, The San Francisco Foundation
“Our country’s public officials, thinkers, and artists must respond to this moment by telling the full, unvarnished history.”
— President Earl Lewis, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Barr Foundation President James Canales wrote a statement in response to recent news of racist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia and President Trump’s subsequent comments:
We at the Barr Foundation add our unequivocal voice to the growing chorus that explicitly renounces the violent expressions of hate and the vile racism and bigotry that we witnessed in Charlottesville last weekend. Of course, such sentiments are not isolated to Virginia, and with a President who increasingly empowers these fringe actors, we will see more of it, even in Boston this coming weekend.
That we find ourselves in this moment only reinforces the fact that our work is far from complete on our way to fulfilling this country’s promise of “e pluribus unum.” It is a moment that should lead all of us to decide what we should do, how we can engage, and where we can commit energy and resources to demonstrate unambiguously that there are not “many sides” to moral imperatives such as fighting racism and combatting bigotry in all of its forms.
The CEO of Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform which is “arguably the largest arts funding organization in the private sector,” published an op-ed in support of the National Endowment for the Arts:
When a Washington Post headline [in 2013] declared “Kickstarter raises more money for artists than the NEA,” I felt both humility and apprehension. We were mentioned in the same breath as the National Endowment for the Arts, an organization whose mission we admire deeply. But I worried our success might be seen as an argument that the private sector alone should address arts funding.
Pam Breaux, CEO of National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, argues that public and private funding are both necessary to fund arts and culture in America:
There is no question as to the public value of the arts and, to be clear, the ongoing debate is not whether the arts have a public benefit, but whether the responsibility to fund the arts should lie with the federal government or private philanthropies. Abundant research points to a clear answer: the private sector alone cannot fund the arts.
Public and private funders have significantly different mandates, and a solely philanthropic arts support model would leave many American communities behind.