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United Arts rethinks role

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By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — Stung by slumps in the economy and workplace giving, United Arts of Raleigh & Wake County expects unrestricted private fundraising to decline this year for the fourth straight year.

The steady erosion of support, along with changes in the region’s economy, population and attitude about the arts and fundraising, has led United Arts to begin talking to corporate executives about its role and future.

“We need to hear feedback from our largest corporate donors to define a direction for the United Arts Council,” says Eleanor Jordan, president and CEO.

United Arts also will talk to grantees and individual donors, and spend the fiscal year that begins July 1 reshaping its overall strategy.

“I would even say that possibly there is a changing community opinion about umbrella funding overall,” she says.

Jordan expects the unrestricted drive, which has a goal of $665,000, to raise $580,000, down from $611,301 in 2002, $726,678 in 2001 and $796,213 in 2000 and $842,785 in 1999.

While 12 workplace campaigns still are not complete, Jordan estimates workplace giving will decline to $200,000 from $226,251 last year, $272,520 in 2001 and $284,582 in 2000.

Overall, 31 employers will hold workplace campaigns, down from 37 last year and 46 in 2001.

Jordan expects corporate giving to decline to $300,000 from $316,254 last year.

But she hopes to increase residential giving by individuals, who soon will receive mail solicitations, to $85,000 from $68,000 last year.

Campaign chairs are Ron Raxter, a lawyer at Maupin Taylor, and  Priscilla Tyree, a communications engineer for the N.C. Utilities Commission.

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