Arts leadership urged

To sustain the arts, a key but fragile asset of local communities, civic leaders must team up to map plans that integrate a range of long-term funding strategies, a new report says.

The report by The Boston Foundation, which studied the funding and impact of the arts in Boston and nine other communities, says civic leaders should consider pushing for an arts tax, more foundation and corporate support, new funding methods to build and fix cultural facilities, united fund drives to tap individual donors, and help for all arts groups to raise as much earned income as possible.

“If we want to achieve our promise by realizing the maximum economic, educational and social benefits from this sector, then we must work together on strategies to nurture, support and grow our cultural assets,” Paul Grogan, the foundation’s president and CEO, says in the report.

The direct economic impact of the Boston region’s 540 arts and cultural groups exceeded $800 million in 1999, the report says, but those groups trailed their peers in other cities in supporting their work through earned income.

“More ominously,” the Boston Foundation says, “all segments of metro Boston’s large and growing arts community lack the depth and breadth of fundraising mechanisms available in other regions.”

The region’s arts sector grew rapidly in the 1990s but that growth mainly was the result of increased giving by individuals, the report says.

Boston suffers, it says, because it lacks a wide range of foundations and government resources available in other cities,

“Cities that do not have access to a number of foundations, government agencies and active corporate supporters are demonstrably better positioned to develop joint strategies that target funding in ways that will enrich the cultural life o their cities and regions as a whole,” the Boston Foundation says.

Strengthening Boston’s arts market will require “a complex, multi-layered approach based on a clearly articulated vision of a vibrant cultural community, supported by broadly representative leadership,” the foundation says.

“And while many strategies could be employed to address the weaknesses in the Boston cultural market, these strategies to not arise in the absence of coordinated leadership.”

The foundation has created a task force to develop a plan to strengthen arts and cultural groups in Boston.

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