The Wallace Foundation has announced a six-year, $40 million initiative to assist performing arts organizations across the country in attracting and retaining audiences.
The initiative, Building Audiences for Sustainability, will provide funding to two dozen organizations — in dance, music, opera, and theater, as well as multidisciplinary performing arts presenters — to carry out audience-engagement efforts in line with RAND's New Framework report and a new report from the foundation, The Road to Results: Effective Practices for Building Arts Audiences (107 pages, PDF). The organizations, which will be announced in February, will have four years to develop and implement an initial audience-building project, assess its effectiveness, and use what they have learned to shape and engage in additional projects. At the same time, they will work on sustaining any audience gains made as a result of their efforts.
To inform and strengthen field practice, the foundation also will commission a $3.5 million study to examine and share the progress and effectiveness of the artistic programming and audience-building work undertaken by the recipient organizations. To that end, Wallace has formed partnerships with seven arts service organizations that will disseminate findings from the study: Opera America, the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, the American Alliance of Museums, the League of American Orchestras, Dance USA, the Theatre Communications Group, and Chamber Music America.
"The Wallace Foundation has been committed to the arts since its inception, reflecting the belief of our co-founder Lila Acheson Wallace that 'the arts belong to everyone'," said Wallace Foundation president Will Miller. "We see helping arts organizations find ways to thrive, not simply survive, as an important part of our mission. This new effort will not only support the plans of about twenty-five great arts organizations to expand and diversify their audiences, it will also provide new insights and knowledge that we hope will be useful to the entire field."