Bloomberg Philanthropies announced Thursday its plan to invest $30 million to boost cultural organizations across the country through a partnership with this university’s DeVos Institute of Arts Management.
Through the investment, the philanthropic organization’s Arts Innovation and Management program will work to improve almost 300 arts and cultural groups — such as museums, symphonies and dance companies — across Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
The DeVos Institute, which provides training and consultation for arts managers and their boards, will help develop the curricula and run training programs in the various cities.
“The major role we’re going to be playing is that we will be managing, devising and coordinating all the program materials, as well as implementing the program itself,” said Tanya Surtees, who will be managing the program from the DeVos Institute.
The DeVos Institute relocated from the Kennedy Center to this university in 2014.
“One of the things the DeVos Institute always looks for in our programming is the chance to support sustainable, diverse cultural sectors in the places it works,” said Joseph Heitz, the director of external relations for the DeVos Institute. “That’ll be a big focus in this: helping organizations to really make great art, connect with their donors and their communities.”
The two-year initiative will provide invited organizations unrestricted grants that can be used to address individual needs, according to information in a Bloomberg Philanthropies news release.
“We’ll be focusing on subjects essential to the effective management of cultural organizations, including art and strategic planning, development, marketing, fundraising and community engagement,” DeVos Institute President Brett Egan said. “Over the course of the next two years, we hope to see organizations excel in those areas.”
The project is an expansion of a previous program funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and run by the DeVos Institute from 2011 to 2013 in New York. The 245 grantees that participated in that program saw advances in audience development, board engagement and fundraising, Surtees said.
Of the participating organizations in New York, 79 percent reached new audiences through targeted marketing and social media, and 95 percent saw enhanced board member engagement, according to the news release.
Additionally, 88 percent used the grant money to secure new donations.
“We would anticipate similar successes within the groups we’re working with,” Surtees said. “Ultimately, when the two years is up, we’d like to leave behind us some sort of legacy and model for other organizations to be able to look to and engage with so the teaching becomes peer-to-peer.”
Egan said by the time the program ends, he hopes the organizations involved have diversified the donor base.
“The greatest threat facing cultural organizations is their dependence on a single donor or a small group of donors,” he said. “The key to sustainability is ensuring that you can sustain the loss of any given donor and continue working.”
Surtees said Bloomberg Philanthropies’ donation “is one of the biggest philanthropic gestures that has been made to the arts and culture environment in a while.”
“Nonprofit arts groups do so much to help cities thrive, but they often face major funding challenges,” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies, wrote in a statement. “Effective management and fundraising practices are absolutely critical for arts organizations, especially those with small budgets. These grants will help arts groups make the most of their resources, reach more people, and have an even bigger impact on their communities.”