Indepth Arts News: |
Landmark National Policy Initiative for
American Arts and Culture Announced"
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The Pew Charitable Trusts
USA United States of America
The Pew Charitable Trusts, a
leading funder of the arts in the U.S., have announced the launch of
Optimizing America's Cultural Resources, the philanthropy's largest
national cultural initiative ever. The goal of the initiative is to strengthen
political and financial support for nonprofit culture by building an
infrastructure for the development of more effective private and public
policies affecting American arts and culture.
The five-year, multi-million-dollar strategy has three components. The first
is to establish a comprehensive, centralized source for reliable data and
information on all aspects of American cultural life. The second is to
implement media and advocacy initiatives to expand arts coverage and
stimulate informed discussions among policy-makers and other opinion
leaders about needs and opportunities for an enriched cultural life for all
Americans. The third will help cultural institutions earn the support of
policy makers and funders by measuring the results of their programs
and activities more effectively and by developing their leadership.
As a first step in launching the initiative, The Pew Charitable Trusts have
approved a grant to undertake a major, comprehensive study of the arts
that will examine the development of the cultural sector since the 1966
seminal publication, Performing Arts, the Economic Dilemma by
economists William Baumol and William Bowen. The 18-month research
study will help determine the current state of the arts and set the stage for
developing policies and research agendas with far-reaching and positive
impact on the ways that the arts perceived and supported. RAND, the
noted Santa Monica, California research institution, will conduct the study.
Art and culture are the second largest export in America after technology,
said Marian A. Godfrey, director of The Culture program for The Pew
Charitable Trusts. And while culture plays a significant role in the
American economyócontributing between three and six percent of the
gross domestic productówe have no organizing framework for this
remarkable cultural richness and no overall context in which to
understand and nurture it. The main goal of this initiative is to usher in a
new era of cultural policy development to ensure that the cultural heritage
and artistic resources of the United States are appropriately sustained
The initiative is being launched at a time when it is widely recognized that
cultural life in America has reached unprecedented heights, with
attendance at many cultural events and institutions breaking records on a
regular basis, and more artists, performers, writers and poets than ever.
Despite this apparent boom, many important questions about American
arts and culture persist such as:
Are certain segments of the nation being culturally under-servedNULL
Do the arts have a high enough priority among policy-makers,
foundations, corporations, journalists and the general publicNULL
Are our cultural institutions equipped to face a new world of
accountability in which the capacity to measure the results of
activities will be necessaryNULL
Working with partners in the field, we hope to make available, for the first
time, a new level of comprehensive, fact-based information on America's
cultural life. This information can guide a more meaningful and, we hope,
a broader dialogue on the role of arts and culture in our society, said
Stephen K. Urice, the officer of Pew's Culture program with responsibility
for the new initiative. We are reinforcing the idea that the arts are a
necessary and vital part of the health of our society.
The research component of the initiative consists of gathering, developing
and evaluating data on American arts and culture. The RAND research
study will address the absence of comprehensive data on the arts by
compiling an information compendium that would include databases,
research studies and other literature on the performing, visual and literary
arts and the major disciplines within each of these branches. For the
performing arts, the RAND study will also analyze the significant changes
in the field since Baumol and Bowen's report.
Envisioned as a key element of the Trusts' research strategy would be the
creation of a national cultural information exchange. The exchange would
serve as a repository and resource for cultural statistics, sponsor rigorous
research and conduct polling. It would deliver its information to opinion
leaders and policy-makers through the media, cultural service
organizations and professional publications.
Promoting a more informed and broader dialogue of the importance of
arts and culture to our society is another major objective of the strategy.
The Trusts will build on their current support of the National Arts
Journalism Program at Columbia University, established in 1993 to
increase the quantity and quality of arts reporting, by encouraging the
development of arts and culture news programming on public, cable and
The Trusts will also seek to strengthen the advocacy capacity of the arts
sector by partnering with other cultural organizations and grantmakers.
Recognizing governmental and foundations' demands for greater
accountability, the Trusts will work closely with cultural institutions and
their service organizations to strengthen institutions' capacities to
evaluate the results and impact of their programs and activities. It will also
seek ways to assist the cultural community develop the leadership that
will be needed to maintain a strong and vibrant future.
The Pew Charitable Trusts
The Pew Charitable Trusts support a broad range of nonprofit activities by
making strategic investments in people and organizations to solve difficult
problems. The Trusts have been involved in public policy in a number of
grantmaking programs. For example, starting in the 1980s, the Trusts'
Environment Program has been in the vanguard in a number of areas,
including forest- and fishery-management reform, global warming,
restructuring of utility regulations and air pollution.
Other Pew policy initiatives include Americans Discuss Social Security, a
national dialogue on the future of the nation's largest social program, and
The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, an independent
opinion research group that studies attitudes toward the press, politics
and public policy issues. In addition, the Public Policy Program has
supported efforts to rethink the campaign-finance system and how to
re-engage youths in the country's civic life.
Based in Philadelphia, the Trusts consist of seven individual charitable
funds established between 1948 and 1979 by two sons and two
daughters of Sun Oil Company founder Joseph N. Pew and his wife, Mary
The Pew Charitable Trusts are one of the largest grantmaking
organizations in the U.S. In 1998, the Trusts made grants totaling $213
million and the market value of the Trusts' assets was $4.7 billion. The
funds' grantmaking activities are managed collectively and spread over six
program areas: culture, education, environment, health and human
services, public policy and religion. The Trusts' Venture Fund invests in
initiatives that fall outside these programmatic boundaries.
The Trusts have long been active in Philadelphia as the region's leading
private funder of the arts. The flagship local grantmaking initiative, the
Philadelphia Cultural Leadership Program, awards operating funds on a
competitive basis by challenging organizations to strengthen their artistic
and financial capabilities.
The Trusts also provide direct support for artistic development and
programming in dance, theater, music and the visual arts. Also, through
the Pew Fellowships in the Arts program, individual Philadelphia area
artists can apply for stipends of up to $50,000.
The Culture program in 1998 awarded 34 grants totaling $22.8 million,
directing 60 percent to local programs and 40 percent to national