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Indepth Arts News:

" Landmark National Policy Initiative for American Arts and Culture Announced"
0000-00-00 until 0000-00-00
The Pew Charitable Trusts
Philadelphia, PA, 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 and supported. Program Components 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. Research 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. Media Initiatives 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 commercial broadcasting. The Trusts will also seek to strengthen the advocacy capacity of the arts sector by partnering with other cultural organizations and grantmakers. Institutional Assistance 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 Anderson Pew. 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 initiatives.

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