“Marcia A. Thompson, an unsung advocate for the arts and humanities whose grants inspired struggling cultural organizations to become better performers financially, died on March 29 at her home in Manhattan,” writes Sam Roberts in Wednesday’s (4/11) New York Times. “She was 94. Her death was announced by the Ford Foundation, where she was instrumental in establishing the National Arts Stabilization Fund, a consortium of private and corporate philanthropies. The fund grew out of her collaboration, beginning in the late 1950s, with a Ford vice president, W. McNeil Lowry, to create incentives for symphonies, ballet companies, theaters and other arts groups to liquidate their deficits and build working capital reserves. The model’s disciplined, businesslike approach inspired Congress to subsidize the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities…. Ms. Thompson … founded the stabilization fund in 1983 and served as its president until 1991…. ‘With little credit or fanfare, she played a central role in promoting the arts and humanities in America,’ [said] Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation…. Thompson … attended a Katharine Gibbs School and was hired in 1946 as an assistant to Lester Markel, the editor of The New York Times Magazine. There she first met Mr. Lowry.”

Posted April 11, 2018