Assessment of Regranting Intermediaries Strategy: Exploring the Ecosystem of Support for Individual Artists & Small Arts Organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area

Nov 25, 2014
In March 2014, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation engaged consultants from Olive Grove in partnership with Informing Change to assess the effectiveness of the Foundation's approach to support regranting intermediaries as a means to resource small arts organizations, individuals artist, and communities or arts disciplines with which program staff have limited experience {for instance, folk and traditional arts). The purpose of this study was three-fold:

- To forecast the fluctuating funding environment for the Performing Arts Program's (the Program) current intermediaries;

- To better understand which artists, organizations, and communities benefit from the Program's current intermediary funding strategey and where gaps or overlaps lie; and

- To develop a set of recommendations for how the Program's regranting approach could adapt in order to better serve the Bay Area's performing arts ecoystem, according to the goals and priorities of the Program's strategic framework.

The primary audience for this assessment is the Performing Arts Program staff, who will use the findings and recommendations to inform decision-making about how to best use intermediary funding to help the Program achieve its goals. The leaders of the current intermediaries are the secondary audience, since the Program staff wants to work in a spirit of partnership with these organizations. The tertiary audience is the larger arts and culture field, which could benefit from excerpted "lessons learned" from this assessment.
  • While the entire nonprofit sector struggles to be sustainable, the performing arts community in particular suffers from a specific mix of stressors that deeply impact their capacity for longevity in the community. Key factors include: funding and capacity to solicit and retain support; access to affordable facilities and appropriate space for art-making and presenting; and accessing and retaining the skills and infrastructure needed to be sustainable.
  • They way art is made continues to evolve, such that categories and frameworks traditionally used to separate artistic styles and types no longer fit much of the art emerging in the field. Artists are self-identifying as part of multiple performance groups or structures as well as remaining more independent, further blurring the lines to "pin down" art forms and boundaries.
  • Many small arts organizations and individual artists are still not being reached. Identifying and understanding ""who is missing"" was a key focus of this study, and there is still more to learn on this issue. However, certain communities are believed to be marginalized and have barriers to accessing funding for their creative express, including certain ethnic, cultural and immigrant communities, and those who may no associate their creative expression with customary art categories or who cross those categorical boundaries, among others.
  • From 2010 to 2013, Hewlett’s intermediaries regranted almost $7.4 million through 1,382 grants, and approximately 53% of this funding came from their support from Hewlett. There was a slight decline in grants and funding over this time period, while the demand from individual artists and small organizations was increasing. Grants were made throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and across art disciplines, ranging from less than $1,000 to over $25,000.
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