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'Sleeping Giant' in Philanthropy May Be Good News for Arts Education

Amid all the belt-tightening among federal, state, and local governments, arts education advocates may have some welcome news. A story published yesterday by The Art Newspaper identifies artist-endowed foundations as "the sleeping giant of philanthropy," pointing out that such foundations are rapidly growing both in number and financial strength.

Close to 300 artist-endowed foundations were identified at last count, the story says, and they jointly control combined assets of some $2.7 billion.

As the article explains: "That's a relatively modest sum next to the half a trillion dollars held in total by U.S. foundations. But artist-endowed foundations are especially important in the art world. Although some do fund noncultural causes, many stay tightly focused on the arts, bestowing their largesse on museums, research, publications, education, scholarships, and various means of support for living artists."

The story adds: "With an unprecedented cohort of well-to-do painters and sculptors among the older generations, the golden age of artist foundations may yet be ahead."

The story cites a massive 2010 report that may be of interest: "The Artist As Philanthropist: Strengthening the Next Generation of Artist-Endowed Foundations."

It's not clear to me the extent to which these foundations provide—or don't provide—grants for K-12 arts education initiatives, but even if it's uncommon, one never knows whether that could change.

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