To give a boost to New York City arts organizations hard hit by the financial crisis, the Open Society Foundations announced $11 million in grants to support community and educational arts initiatives.
“The arts–and arts education–are a vital part of the fabric of New York City,” said George Soros, chairman of the Open Society Foundations. “This funding will help organizations that have been under severe strain because of the economic crisis.”
According to a report released by the Alliance for the Arts in May 2010, more than 60 percent of arts organizations in New York City reported significant budget cuts since the recession which have resulted in fewer jobs in the arts industry and reduced public programming.
The $11 million investment is made through the Performing Arts Recovery Initiative, a special one-time grant program sponsored by the Open Society Foundations and managed by the Fund for the City of New York. The program is focused on supporting nonprofit music, dance, and theater groups that are recognized for the quality of their artistic work, their strong educational programs for young people, their employment of artists and their other contributions to the vibrancy of New York City’s cultural life.
Seventy-nine organizations will receive two-year operating-support grants ranging from $65,000 to $250,000. The groups, located in all five boroughs of New York City, vary in budget size from $75,000 to $7 million and are primarily small and less visible than larger mainstream organizations; consequently, they are most impacted by the economic crisis and most in need of assistance.
They include the New York Youth Symphony, Bronx Arts Ensemble, Ballet Hispanico, Mark Morris Dance Group, Epic Theatre Ensemble and Dance Theater of Harlem. The full list of grant recipients is available at http://www.soros.org/initiatives/usprograms/focus/special/news/arts-funding-20100721.
“This initiative is part of our wide-ranging, ongoing work to address the economic crisis nationwide,” said Ann Beeson, executive director of U.S. Programs at the Open Society Institute, who managed the program directly, along with Mary McCormick, president of the Fund for the City of New York, and adviser Holly Sidford of Helicon Collaborative. “New York City’s nonprofit arts and culture organizations employ more than 160,000 people–three times more than the law firms in the city. We’re not an arts foundation, but we know the central role arts and culture play in economic stability and social change.”
The Performing Arts Recovery Initiative grants come as arts groups in New York face sharp reductions in support from the state and city. One goal of the initiative is to encourage other funders to support the arts and recognize the central role arts and culture plays in the city’s economy.