By: Peter Linett

May 17, 2019

Across the U.S., foundations are rethinking how they fund culture and the arts. Some are pulling out. But some are becoming even more creative and collaborative. 

My team and I are excited about four new studies we’ve just started, all of them tied to how foundations are investing in museums, the arts, and community vitality.

From west to east: We’ll be helping SFMOMA capture lessons and strategies from its Artist Initiative, a five-year collaboration generously supported by the Mellon Foundation that has brought together artists, the museum’s own collections, curatorial, and education teams, and faculty and students from more than 20 Bay Area universities.

In Denver, we’ll be returning to Ruby Hill Park for a follow-up study of the impact of the Levitt Pavilion there (pictured above), one of the Levitt Foundation’s  growing family of free outdoor music venues around the country. We collected data in 2013 when the pavilion was in the planning stages, as the “pre” wave of this pre-post study. The pavilion opened in the summer of 2017, and we’re eager to return to this diverse, dynamic neighborhood to see what has changed as a result of its presence and programming.

In our hometown of Chicago, we’re delighted to be collaborating with the eminent museum evaluator and leadership consultant Randi Korn on a project for the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation. The project will focus on the foundation’s collections grants, which support museums, libraries, and other collections-based organizations in the Chicago area and in South Carolina’s Lowcountry region.

And in the northeast, we’re looking forward to working with a group of arts & culture organizations in Westchester County and the Lower Hudson Valley to understand the needs, perceptions, and attendance patterns of audiences in those communities. The collaboration will be managed and funded in part by the Westchester Community Foundation, working with arts marketing consultant Tom O’Connor.

We’re proud to help all these cultural funders and organizations make meaning and make change. If you have questions about these or other projects, be in touch—I’d love to hear from you.


Photo credit: Joel Rekiel, Levitt Pavilion Denver (many thanks for this beautiful shot of community and music in action together!)


Let's stay in touch. Sign up for our newsletters.