Giving Compass' Take:

• In this post, Createquity gives recommendations for foundations, government agencies, individual philanthropists, and others providing resources to support the arts.

• A major takeaway from the advice given here is not to look put your name on a building, but instead seek knowledge: Funding arts-related research can go a long way in developing this sector.

• Here are five more lessons in disrupting arts philanthropy.

For the past three years and change, Createquity’s mission has been to research “the most important issues in the arts and what we can do about them.” During that time, in networking meetings with potential donors or friends of the organization, I would often get questions along the lines of, “so what are the most important issues in the arts?” Createquity’s approach involved deeply investigating a wide range of potential issues before coming to firm conclusions about which ones might be most deserving of our attention, or what kinds of actions we might want to advocate for. Now, however, with Createquity having announced its intention to cease operations at the end of 2017, the time has come to share what we do know – even if there are still significant gaps in that knowledge – and what we think it means for those trying to improve people’s lives through the arts.

People are fond of calling for more leadership in the arts sector. But the thing about an ecosystem is that it is fundamentally leaderless. Which means that we all have to be leaders if any leadership is going to happen. And to me, in the context of grantmaking, that means all of us taking the time to thoroughly understand the arts funding landscape before deciding what role is most appropriate for us to play.


A good rule of thumb is to start with the premise that every other funder is not doing this — in other words, that every other funder is less strategic than you. That flies in the face of the philosophy of humble servant leadership that we’re taught to model in philanthropy. Even so, I would argue that it is a useful working assumption, because if you believe it, then you must believe that it is your responsibility to be the actor in the ecosystem who fills the gaps, who does what needs to be done and what no one else is willing to do. It is up to you to find out what what is needed and neglected, and prioritize that over what might get the best press or the fanciest gala tickets.

Regardless of the more specific advice below, this is the most important. Take the time to understand how your work fits into the overall landscape of needs and opportunities in the sector. An eager audience is depending on you to do it.

Read the full article about arts philanthropy by Ian David Moss from Createquity.