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Bloomberg Philanthropies To Invest $32 Million In New York City Arts And Cultural Organizations

Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced the launch of the Arts Advancement Initiative, its new effort to support small- and mid-sized nonprofit arts and cultural organizations in New York City. The invitation-only program seeks to strengthen the City’s arts groups and counter the negative impact of the economic downturn. Through the two-year initiative, Bloomberg Philanthropies will offer $32 million of unrestricted general operating support to about 250 small- and mid-sized organizations throughout the five boroughs. To strengthen the organizations’ long-term capacity, all groups will participate in technical assistance programming and will be required to focus on either attracting broader audiences or improving selected management practices. The arts are critically important to New York City’s cultural and economic wellbeing. Nearly half of the record 48.7 million tourists who visited New York City last year came to see arts and cultural attractions.

“By providing flexible funding today and smart planning for tomorrow, we hope to help these important community organizations during these difficult times and make them stronger for the future,” said Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Anita Contini. The grants will support a wide range of visual and performing arts organizations — from theater to visual arts, music, film, literary, and dance organizations— serving communities throughout the five boroughs. Three-quarters of the overall $32 million will be awarded to organizations with less than $3 million annual operating budgets. The grants will be unrestricted, so that the recipients can use them to address their greatest needs. All organizations invited to participate are locally or internationally recognized nonprofits who have been in existence for at least two years. In addition to the provision of unrestricted funding, the program aims to engage organizations around activities that strengthen their long-term health and organizational capacity. Grant recipients, for example, will be asked to meet organization-specific milestones related either to audience diversification or organizational management practices. Second year funding will be based on the successful attainment of first year milestones. In addition, all organizations will be required to maintain up-to-date information in the Cultural Data Project, an innovative online management tool which allows users to track their financial and programmatic performance over time and to benchmark themselves against comparable organizations; to secure matching funds equaling 20% of the grant amount; and to reach 100% board participation in give-or-get fundraising.

The DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the Kennedy Center has been retained to provide technical assistance to all of the grantee organizations. This world-class program provides practical training to arts managers, helping them to improve their management and operations strategies.

Invitation letters are being distributed to organizations this month. The Arts Advancement Initiative is a central element of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ expanded focus on arts and culture. Bloomberg Philanthropies’ five key areas of focus are: the arts, public health, government innovation, education, and the environment.