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Press Release: 17 Top National Arts & Culture Nonprofits Identified by 144 Experts

October 24th, 2010 by Erinn Andrews Leave a reply »

Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one. -Stella Adler


The arts have always been an important part of American culture and life. In 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts was created by Congress to ensure funding for new and existing arts forms in the country. In the recent decades, however, the arts have had a much more difficult time getting funding and support at a national level and are often the first programs to be cut in schools when it comes time to cut budgets.

While the arts are an important part in our society and add texture and meaning to our lives, only 4% of total giving was to arts and culture nonprofits in 2009, or $12.64 billion (out of about $300 billion). (From the Giving USA 2010 report.)

Therefore, Philanthropedia surveyed 144 national arts and culture experts (with an average of 25 years of work experience in the field) to identify those organizations that were making the biggest impact in the arts and culture field. We believe a high-impact arts and culture nonprofit is one which is successful at creating or producing something of value to those who care about the arts and culture. A high-impact arts and culture nonprofit is able to contribute to the field by creating meaningful work and/or helping others develop an appreciation for the arts and culture.

National arts and culture experts (funders, researchers, nonprofit senior staff, government officials, etc.) identified 17 top national arts and culture nonprofits (out of 275 total reviewed nonprofits). We asked experts to recommend nonprofits that serve a national or multi-state audience or that influence the arts at the national level. These arts organizations could be developing or producing new work, be focused on performance, work to preserve and promote a traditional culture, advocacy, have an educational component, serve any age or type of audience, have any budget size, and/or represent any genre or discipline of art. We were interested in arts nonprofits that have had real impact and do outstanding work, NOT nonprofits that have simply been around for many years or most need additional funding. This research was focused on organizations, not individual artists.

The following is the list of the top-recommended high-impact nonprofits working on arts and culture at the national level. “Agree” is the number of experts who agree that the nonprofit has had the most impact in the field. “Disagree” is the number of experts who disagree that the nonprofit has had the most impact in field.

17 Top High-Impact Nonprofits # of Experts who Agree # of Experts who Disagree Year Founded Location

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)*

68 10 1965 Washington, DC

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

65 10 1971 Washington, DC

Americans for the Arts

63 10 1960 Washington, DC

Creative Capital

55 2 1974 New York, NY

Walker Art Center

52 5 1927 Minneapolis, MN

New England Foundation for the Arts

50 3 1976 Boston, MA

Theatre Communications Group

49 5 1961 New York, NY

National Performance Network

48 7 1985 New Orleans, LA

Metropolitan Opera

48 14 1883 New York, NY

Dance USA

39 10 1982 Washington, DC

National Association of Latino Arts and Culture (NALAC)

34 5 1989 San Antonio, TX

Alternate ROOTS

32 5 1976 Atlanta, GA

Fractured Atlas

32 6 1998 New York, NY

Creative Time

26 4 1974 New York, NY

Arts Education Partnership

22 4 1995 Washington, DC

Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation

28 11 1978 Baltimore, MD

Arts Midwest

27 11 1985 Minneapolis, MN

*Philanthropedia usually enables donors to donate to all top-recommended nonprofits, however the National Endowment for the Arts is a nonprofit but not a 501c3, so we cannot direct donations to this particular top-recommended nonprofit.

This week we will highlight the top 5 national arts and culture nonprofits. We invite you to visit the profiles of each of these top organizations on our website to read the expert reviews here: http://www.myphilanthropedia.org/top-nonprofits/national/arts-culture.  Experts commented on the impact each nonprofit has had, what the nonprofit’s other organizational strengths are, and how each organization could further improve.

We also invite your feedback here and on our website. Please tell us what you think and what experiences you’ve had with these organizations!

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