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As threats to federal arts funding persist, new study demonstrates vital role of government funding to local arts and culture nonprofits

CLEVELAND (Thursday, April 13, 2017) – Government support to Cuyahoga County arts and culture nonprofits remained relatively constant from 2011-2015. Research indicates small and mid-sized arts and cultural organizations have a higher reliance on public funding compared to larger organizations. This data comes from Culture Pulse, a study released today by the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture (CPAC), which explores the health of arts and culture nonprofits in Cuyahoga County over a five-year period. The report shows that small and medium organizations in the sample, on average, generated 30% and 27% of their contributed income respectively from government sources, whereas large organizations, on average, generated 9% of their contributed income from public sources. Small organizations are defined as organizations with annual expenditures less than $250,000; medium organizations have between $250,000 and less than $2 million in annual expenditures; and large organizations have annual expenditures $2 million or more.

“Government support enables a unique partnership between public and private sector funders to maintain and advance arts and culture in a community” said Thomas B. Schorgl, president and CEO of the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture. “It’s also critical because it is one of the most significant sources of general operating support for the arts and culture sector, which are some of the most difficult funds for arts and cultural organizations of all sizes to secure.”

Findings from Culture Pulse illustrate the indefinite nature of government funding. From 2011-2015, federal funding for the sample of 62 arts and culture nonprofits included in the study dropped by 45%; while county funding declined by 10% during the same period. These losses were made up by growth in state and city funding from 2011-2015.

“It’s important to recognize that state funding reported by these organizations also includes a portion of funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, which is channeled through the Ohio Arts Council for grant making” said Megan Van Voorhis, chief operating officer of the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture, “Cuts made at the federal level will need to be addressed at the state and local level to sustain existing activities.”
To that end, Culture Pulse finds that philanthropists are generous to the region’s arts and culture nonprofits. Contributed support consistently made up the highest percentage of total revenue, and grew nearly $34 million, or 24%, from 2011-2015. In 2015, nearly all types of contributed support outpaced 2011 levels. The largest sources of contributed revenue during these five years were foundations (27%), individuals (25%), and trustee/board support (23%).

The data demonstrates there is good reason for that generosity. In 2015, the sample of arts and culture nonprofits offered 3,800 public performances, 284 exhibitions, 4,471 tours and 13,000 off-site school programs.
They created 230 new jobs in full-time equivalents from 2011-2015. And, almost all types of arts and culture educational programs from sampled nonprofits increased over that time.

The full Culture Pulse report was prepared by Metris Arts Consulting, a nationally recognized research firm, in collaboration with CPAC staff. The report examines financial trends, such as income and expenses, as well as participation, human resource and space trends. It also compares Cuyahoga County trends with national trends and is informed by a set of three focus groups. Dive deeper into the trends and health of arts and culture as a local asset by viewing both the visually dynamic report, and the full set of data tables at www.cultureforward.org/pulse. This edition of Culture Pulse is the fourth “check-up” of arts and culture from CPAC.

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About CPAC

CPAC is a nonprofit with a mission to strengthen, unify and connect greater Cleveland’s arts and culture. Research is a core component of our work, and one of many ways we support arts and culture. CPAC provides counsel related to public policy that benefits the sector and the broader community. It provides a number of tools through cultureforward.org and mycreativecompass.org for arts and culture professionals and those who would like to engage with them. CPAC also carries out a variety of programs and services that help build the sector’s organizational and business practices to support a vibrant, thriving greater Cleveland. www.cultureforward.org

About Metris Arts

Launched in 2009, Metris Arts Consulting believes in the power of culture to enrich people’s lives and help communities thrive. We believe those benefits should be broadly shared and inclusively developed. Metris seeks to provide high caliber planning, research, and evaluation services to reveal arts impacts and help communities equitably improve cultural vitality. To accelerate change, we seek to share knowledge and amplify the voices of those closest to the work. www.metrisarts.com

About DataArts

The data used for this report was provided by DataArts, an organization created to strengthen arts and culture by documenting and disseminating information on the arts and culture sector. Any interpretation of the data is the view of Metris Arts and the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture and does not reflect the views of DataArts. For more information on DataArts, visit www.culturaldata.org

DataArts, formerly the Cultural Data Project, was founded to bring the language and leverage of data to the business of culture. The Cultural Data Profile (CDP) is DataArts’ flagship service, which thousands of cultural nonprofits use annually to report their financial and programmatic information. DataArts seeks to be a catalyst for data-informed decision-making. 

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