SMU DataArts - Cultural Data Profile


The Big Picture of Arts Support

What We Found

Total unrestricted contributions cover an average of 48.6% of expenses (before depreciation). Half of that amount comes from unrestricted cash support given in the current year for the current year’s activities from the following major sources: trustees, other individuals, corporations, foundations, and government agencies.

The bigger picture of arts support is more multifaceted. The other half of unrestricted support is generated from alternative sources and activities: special events; parent organization support; in-kind contributions of materials, services and facilities from individuals, corporations, and government; united arts funds and similar funding agencies; tribal contributions; and support provided by one of the major sources of support in a prior year and released from restriction because the conditions of the restriction were met in the current year. This last category -- net assets released from restriction -- accounted for 36% of 2017 total unrestricted contributed revenue, and in-kind support made up an additional 5% of the total.

Relative to expenses, support from Government agencies, Foundations, Trustees, and Corporations varied less than one percentage point annually and over time, signaling reliability and stability of relationships and consistent commitment.

Individuals (non-trustees) provide the most funding to the arts and corporations provide the least.  The comparatively small set of individuals who serve as trustees of arts and cultural organizations provide more resources than corporations do, on average.

What factors from the arts and culture ecosystem drive donations and affect contributions from all sources? We discovered the positive and negative influences that influence high performance.

Our mission is to empower arts and cultural leaders with high-quality data and evidence-based resources and insights that help overcome challenges and increase impact.

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