The goal of the Arts program is to promote engagement in the arts for all Californians — the kind that embraces and advances the diverse ways that we experience the arts, and that strengthens our ability to thrive together in a dynamic and complex social environment.
The following animation describes our Arts grantmaking strategy.
What We Believe
By inspiring Californians to see each other and our world in new ways, the arts are a powerful force for connecting people and strengthening communities. Arts funders and nonprofits share a responsibility to make the arts accessible and relevant to all communities.
What We Face
Changing demographics and new technologies have dramatically altered the arts landscape and how people experience art. These changes have created a growing divide between the traditional program offerings of arts nonprofits and the arts experiences that Californians seek. Arts nonprofits must adapt to those changes or risk losing their audiences and revenues. Business as usual is not sustainable.
The good news is that nonprofit arts organization can innovate in ways that make them relevant and responsive to the variety of ways that today's Californians experience the arts. And we support those organizational transformations through the recent shift in our grantmaking strategy.
What We Can Do
We believe that the most critical innovations needed in the arts field today are the kinds that help arts nonprofits become more relevant and responsive because they are better at engaging their communities. Arts organizations should provide engagement opportunities that are compelling to the kinds of people that most nonprofits have struggled to engage — people that now make up the majority of the population in California. A person must first be drawn to an arts experience in order to be transformed by the power of it. When they have that kind of experience, they want more. When an arts organization shifts to a model that provides these types of engagement experiences, they become more relevant and essential to their communities – and they thrive because of it. By engagement we mean:
- Who engages: Expanding opportunities for a greater diversity of Californians to experience the arts in their lives
- How they engage: Expand and deepen the ways Californians experience the arts from “one-way,” as passive spectator, to “two-way,” as active participants in shaping the creative life of their communities
- Where engagement happens: Providing arts experiences outside the walls of traditional arts spaces so the arts live where communities live
We want to foster a relevant, responsive nonprofit arts field in California, so our grants support arts organizations that want to adapt by better engaging their communities. Our grantmaking is structured to help grantee-partners strengthen and sustain their transformation into nimble organizations that better reflect and serve their communities because they are better at engaging them.
The first phase of our grantmaking, the Exploring Engagement Funds, provides risk capital to arts nonprofits for innovative projects that profile and test new engagement ideas. Please read about the funds and see videos and examples of the types of work we have supported through these funds.
While the experiments funded through the Exploring Engagement Funds are a critical step, the main focus of our grantmaking will be helping organizations go beyond experimentation to develop ongoing organizational capacity to adapt and to expand engagement. Future grantmaking will help organizations strengthen and sustain these transformations.
The territory ahead has yet to be charted, and we recognize that we are asking arts nonprofits to take bold risks. We are committed to the journey and we will provide support for organizational transformations well beyond the experimental phase. Together, we can create a sustainable, relevant nonprofit arts field — and position the arts as an essential force in the lives of all Californians.
Learn — and Share — More
We encourage you to learn more about our strategy — and tell us what you think! We know we can benefit from your ideas and suggestions.
- Watch a webinar about our Arts strategy delivered to our grantees and the California arts community in June 2011.
- Read about the three separate Exploring Engagement Funds and/or watch a webinar we held in November 2011.
- Explore our FAQ to learn more about what we fund and how we make grants.
- Sign up for updates to receive more information as it becomes available.
- Find us on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
- Share comments in the section below.
Additionally, we will continue to post information on our website as we refine our priorities and as opportunities to apply for funding under this strategy become available.