Giving Compass' Take:

• An accurate count for the U.S. Census will impact arts and culture through the allocation of federal funds that go toward cultural agencies and arts-related funding from other departments. Additionally, population-based funding decides the placing of cultural facilities, transportation planning, zoning, and project prioritization.

• How are philanthropists ensuring an accurate count to the Census? 

• Read more about how philanthropy can address the challenges of the 2020 Census. 

The U.S. Census is a population count mandated by the U.S. Constitution to take place every 10 years, which is used to reapportion seats in the House of Representatives, draw legislative districts, and distribute approximately $800 billion in federal funds annually. Until this latest U.S. Census, it has been conducted primarily through person-to-person interactions or via letter. In 2020, about 80 percent of recipients will be given the option of completing the Census online. All information gathered is confidential, although not necessarily anonymous—the quantity of information gathered is such that it is sometimes possible to extrapolate individual responses.

The 2020 U.S. Census has the potential to impact the distribution of dollars from the federal cultural agencies, as well as the distribution of arts-related funds from other departments such as the Department of Education and the State Department. In the case of the National Endowment for the Arts, the 40 percent of the agency’s budget mandated for distribution to state arts agencies is in large part determined on a per capita basis.

Population density and demographics can also impact the placing of cultural facilities, transportation planning, zoning, and project prioritization. Population-based funding allocations exist throughout the government, including in the Departments of Education, Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture, etc., all of which also have pockets of funds that in part stream to the arts. Additionally, special government grants also are given to areas with large populations of historically marginalized communities. If the U.S. Census doesn’t get an accurate count of these populations, then arts organizations engaged with those populations could be hindered in the amount of money they can get through government grants.

Read the full article about how the census impacts arts and culture by Mr. Clayton W. Lord at ARTS Blog.