Philanthropy beat: Funding for arts groups rebounds

  • Article by: JEAN HOPFENSPERGER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 10, 2012 - 8:08 PM

Minnesota grant makers donated $129 million to theaters, orchestras and other arts organizations in 2010 -- the highest amount since 2005.

That's a 20 percent hike over 2009, according to a new analysis by the Minnesota Council on Foundations.

Performing arts organizations received the biggest share, 37 percent. Museums, both local and national, came in second with 19 percent.

"I think it's good news,'' said Bill King, executive director of the Minnesota Council on Foundations. "Six of the nine subcategories [of arts organizations] that we looked at received increases, some significant. That's an indication of the economy settling down.''

Arts donations have been precarious over the past 10 years. Funding reached its lowest level, $94 million, in 2002, followed by a peak of $131 million in 2005. Donations then fell four of the next five years.

But the $129 million donated in 2010 wasn't spread evenly across organizations big and small. Several capital campaigns, such those by the Minnesota Orchestra to refurbish Orchestra Hall, generated some very large donations, King said.

The Minnesota Orchestral Association, in fact, topped the list of grant recipients, taking in $17.5 million. The Smithsonian Institution came in second, at $8.3 million, followed by the Walker Art Center ($5.3 million) Yale University ($4.3 million) and the Guthrie Theater ($4 million).

The generous national grants reflect the composition of Minnesota's grant makers, said King. About 42 percent are corporations, which have a broader reach than just the state.

Minnesota's top arts grant makers were the Target Foundation and Corporation ($33.8 million), the Minneapolis Foundation ( $12.5 million) and the McKnight Foundation ($9.7 million).

Do the new numbers indicate that arts funding is finally on the rise?

King was hesitant to make any predictions, noting, "The long-term future will depend on how the economy is doing.''

Jean Hopfensperger • 612-673-4511

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