Cultural Organizations Receive Grants

November 17, 2003

New York, November 17, 2003 -- Twenty-one cultural organizations in 15 states have been awarded grants totaling more than $13 million by the Wallace Foundation to help pioneer effective ideas and practices that can build public participation in the arts.

This latest round of grants brings to 58 the number of arts institutions across the country with strong track records in participation-building that have received a total of more than $43 million in support since 1999 under Wallace’s Leadership and Excellence in Arts Participation initiative or LEAP.

Through LEAP, many museums, performing arts organizations, and community cultural centers that are adopting customer-focused practices aligned with high-quality artistic programs are experiencing higher ticket sales; attracting new, more diverse patrons; or encouraging people to return for a greater variety of programs and activities. “In all of our work, we seek to support and share effective practices that help organizations expand learning and enrichment opportunities for all people,” said M. Christine DeVita, the Foundation’s president. “Our LEAP partnership with leading arts organizations enables us to help develop new practices that expand participation in the arts, and then to share the lessons from their work so that other institutions around the country make the arts an essential resource for individual learning, personal enrichment, civic engagement and community health.”

Each LEAP organization sets its own goals covering a wide range of possible activities including field testing program, marketing, outreach and organizational strategies that hold promise for broadening, deepening or diversifying participation. Collectively, the goals of Wallace’s LEAP initiative are twofold: to provide LEAP organizations support to develop, experiment and refine innovative and effective participation-building practices and strategies; and to share that information in ways that permit other arts organizations to adopt those strategies.

Activities by the latest round of LEAP grantees will include:

  • Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) in Dearborn, MI will create the nation’s first ever Arab American National Museum and present programs in visual arts, literature, film and performing arts, including organizing national tours by Arab American performance groups. This effort builds on years of success conducting national tours by Arab American performing artists among members of the Arab American Arts Network it organized in five U.S. cities.
  • The Aspen Music Festival and School in Colorado will work with promoters of regional tourism to market this summer festival of classical music as package tours to concert-goers in selected cities across the country, identified through Aspen partnering with classical music organizations in those other cities.
  • Blue Apple Players in Louisville, Kentucky, a 27-year-old theater for youth, will get back in touch with many of the adults state-wide who had their first experience of live theater at a Blue Apple production, to involve them and their families again as audience members, supporters, volunteers, staff, actors and potential board members.

“Organizations of widely different types and sizes in many communities are hotbeds of creative thinking about effective strategies for building arts participation,” said Michael Moore, director of arts programs at the Foundation. “We think these organizations, and many like them, need to be understood, valued and supported. You could have the world’s greatest artistry, but if your door is locked, no one is ever going to see it.”

LEAP is part of a multifaceted effort to develop knowledge about effective participation-building practices among interested arts organizations and their funding partners across the country. It builds on more than a decade of work during which the Foundation, formerly the Wallace-Reader’s Digest Funds, invested more than $300 million in theaters, museums, dance companies, literary groups, community art schools and centers. Through their programs and public efforts, these organizations have demonstrated that excellence need not mean exclusion and that the benefits of the arts can be multiplied through the shared experience of participation.

Over the past decade, the Foundation has used a range of strategies to help propel the development of cultural organizations that are effectively increasing participation in their communities; to foster partnerships with states and other public and private funders to increase arts participation; and to develop new knowledge and tools, including A New Framework for Building Arts Participation developed by RAND, that help make the arts part of people's everyday lives.

The Foundation’s three current goals are to: improve student achievement through stronger education leadership; enhance after-school learning opportunities; and expand participation in arts and culture.

List of Newly Named Grantees:

Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) in Dearborn, MI, will expand and diversify local, regional, and national audiences for its soon to open Arab American National Museum, its Resource Center, nationally touring performing arts events and an array of other public programs that will document, present, preserve, and celebrate the history, culture, and contributions of Arab Americans. ($900,000 over 4 years)

Appalshop in Whitesburg, KY, will broaden and deepen participation by low to moderate income regional and national audiences by increasing the number of local, regional and national presentations it offers. This community-based arts center will promote crossover participation among its many programs by creating the Appalshop Learning Center that will also offer multidisciplinary arts education programs. ($700,000 over 4 years)

AS220 in Providence, RI, will diversify its multigenerational community by engaging artists and the arts-going public who are over age 40. This community-based arts center will also expand opportunities for employment for individual artists by including at least three additional annual artist residencies, and will restructure many of its events to increase participation and enhance earned revenue. ($300,000 over 4 years)

Aspen Music Festival and School in Aspen, CO, will develop and offer three- to five-day thematic mini-festivals designed to draw in casual audiences and give them a deeper experience. The project includes planning and audience research to learn how to convert casual attendees into committed concertgoers, and will include marketing tour packages to music enthusiasts in several key cities following the model of Colorado ski resorts. ($1,000,000 over 4 years)

Bay Area Video Coalition in San Francisco, will provide established and emerging artists and arts organizations with the equipment, training and support they need to use powerful media tools to create and distribute art to broad audiences. This noncommercial media technology access and training center will help arts organizations in many disciplines use media tools to achieve their own participation-building goals. ($700,000 over 4 years)

Blue Apple Players in Louisville, KY, will enrich relationships with their community by strengthening communications systems, improving production values, strengthening education programs and sharing lessons of effective practices with professional colleagues. This theater company will also recruit past participants to become actively engaged as volunteers, audience members, actors, staff, board members or potential donors. ($300,000 over 4 years)

Cal Performances in Berkeley, CA, will deepen and increase the frequency of participation by current audience members through audience research, enhanced marketing and expanding the use of new technology. This university-based presenter will also enhance its public programs by engaging university faculty to provide context and educational information at performance events. ($900,000 over 4 years) COCA - Center of Creative Arts in St. Louis, will lay the groundwork for its growth into an expanded facility by enhancing marketing efforts, building its capacity to communicate with participants electronically and raising the level of its arts programs by engaging high profile artists. The Center will increase student enrollment, theater audiences and core supporters. ($700,000 over 4 years)

Community Music School of Springfield in Springfield, MA, will expand its Prelude program by training early childhood teachers at multiple community sites in three cities to integrate music into their daily classroom plans. The music school will also use parent advisory groups to create family events centered around musical performances and other enriching cultural activities. Another component of the program, called Presto, will identify talented, young string players and provide comprehensive string education and training. ($600,000 over 4 years)

Cornerstone Theater Company in Los Angeles, will sustain and deepen relationships with community participants it has worked with throughout Los Angeles and enhance information systems to track these relationships. Through the Cornerstone Institute, the theater will train students to become leaders in the practice of community engaged theater. ($600,000 over 4 years)

Liz Lerman Dance Exchange in Takoma Park, MD, will strengthen the collaborations with arts presenters and other partners that have been key to its past success engaging communities and promoting artist participation In a program of integrated and overlapping activities, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange will develop and publish a partner guide, send advance teams to lay the foundation for participatory residency projects, and organize three conferences to share lessons of effective practice. In addition, the company will explore the relationship between community engagement, high production values, and experimental approaches to audience participation. ($600,000 over 4 years)

Dell’Arte International in Blue Lake, CA, will join with three local community organizations to strengthen their ability to present art forms from Latino and Native American cultural traditions. Dell’Arte will host events organized by the community organizations as part of its annual performing arts festival and will hire Latino and Native American staff. To engage participants from these communities, Dell’Arte will conduct audience research and enhance marketing and communications efforts. ($300,000 over 4 years)

Hancher Auditorium/University of Iowa will create a network with organizations in its Iowa City home and three other Iowa communities to plan and implement two long-term artist residencies each year with performances aimed at young parents and their children. Hancher will develop an online videoconference system to enhance the on-site residencies and to serve as a vehicle for planning, documentation, evaluation and dissemination. ($800,000 over 4 years)

Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis, will launch Immigrant Status, a multidisciplinary series of exhibitions and performances exploring the cultures and conditions of Minnesota’s newest immigrant populations, African/Somalis, Latino/Mexicans and Russians. Intermedia will hire artistic and organizational staff from these international communities and adopt new curatorial, artistic and audience development practices to fully engage members from each community. ($491,000 over 4 years)

Marwen a visual arts, college planning, and career development organization in Chicago for youth in grades 6-12, will increase the number of students it serves by 25 percent through innovative outreach and marketing initiatives. The group will also enhance its Studio Program by increasing the breadth, depth and number of courses it offers, adding sequential studio course tracks and new college and career initiatives. Marwen will document and publish its teaching method and curriculum and disseminate these materials nationally. ($500,000 over 4 years)

Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum in Chicago, will create new exhibitions, strengthen educational programs, expand performing arts programs and enhance internal planning and research in order to deepen the engagement of Mexican-American artists and broaden the museum’s outreach to Chicago’s suburbs and rural communities in Illinois and throughout the Midwest. ($700,000 over 4 years)

Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit will enhance the experience of youth who participate in its nine-month intensive Youth Ensemble training and performance program, expand its offerings of introductory performance classes, and produce at least one major concert and one major original theater production annually. Mosaic will contract with the University of Michigan to evaluate and document the impact of these programs on participants, families, audiences and the Detroit community. ($300,000 over 4 years)

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston will implement Gateway to Art/De Puertas al Arte, a multifaceted program designed to disseminate new knowledge about Latin American art based around the presentation of up to four exhibitions of Latin American art annually. The museum will further broaden, diversify and educate the museum’s adult audiences through its activities in Latin American and Latino art by each year offering over 25 classes, lectures, scholarly symposia, readings, artist talks, teacher workshops, programs for college students, parent workshops and other educational programs. ($1,000,000 over 4 years)

Perseverance Theatre in Douglas, AK, will expand participation by Alaska Native artists and audiences by hiring and training Alaska Natives to create new theater works for their communities and seeking their guidance about effective marketing and outreach efforts. Funds will support artistic projects, artist training, marketing efforts and staff positions for Alaska Native administrators in outreach and development. ($400,000 over 4 years)

Speed Art Museum in Louisville, KY, will increase participation by target groups of families with children and youth in the Louisville metropolitan area. It will conduct audience research to inform the reinstallation of its permanent collection and programs in its Art Learning Center. Enhanced weekend programs for families and a new youth apprentice program will deepen the engagement of current participants and broaden participation to include new audiences. ($800,000 over 4 years)

Western Folklife Center in Elko, NV, will expand participation among its far-flung rural constituency by developing Deep West, a program combining live touring events with online forums and radio programming built on stories from the rural west, told through poetry, prose, visual arts or photography. Using its annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering as a focus, the Western Folklife Center will develop strategies to increase its supporting members and maintain contact with all its audiences through regular email newsletters and other communications. ($500,000 over 4 years)