The Seattle-based Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation “will announce the first cycle of grants for social impact theatre—defined as ‘artistic content that promotes dialogue around relevant social issues’—in mid-May,” writes Mike Scutari in Wednesday’s (4/10) Inside Philanthropy. “The foundation … previously focused on ‘organizational excellence in small and mid-sized theaters.’… However, upon ‘recognizing that theatre has the power to address important and somewhat provocative issues,’ the foundation shifted to a model of production-specific support for shows that ‘take on relevant social issues’ … The foundation believes that ‘active engagement before and after performances provides additional access points that are welcoming to new and underserved audiences.’ The foundation’s talking points reveal an ancillary benefit of socially focused programming: its ability to serve as a natural springboard for greater community and audience engagement…. This fact alone doesn’t explain the surge in giving for initiatives that explore the intersection of art and social welfare. The larger context is that funders are responding to the highly charged political and social climate…. As younger donors ramp up their giving, the transactional ‘old world’ model of arts philanthropy is being supplanted by a more immersive approach that views the arts through a social justice lens.”

Posted April 16, 2019