“Most arts organizations these days are seeking ways to fill seats and to expand their audiences,” writes Felicia Lee in Thursday’s (10/2) New York Times. On Wednesday, the Wallace Foundation announced “a $40 million effort to help performing arts organizations around the country do so. The six-year initiative will provide funding for up to 24 nonprofit organizations—multidisciplinary presenters or those in other nonvisual arts forms, such as opera, theater, music and dance. Over four years, the chosen organizations will design projects to build audiences through a variety of ways, including new programs as well as nontraditional venues. The organizations will be named in February. The Wallace Foundation is a New York City-based organization with a goal of helping disadvantaged children through education and other means…. The foundation plans to fund an independent $3.5-million study to assess the effectiveness of the Building Audiences program, which it will share with other arts organizations.” The announcement of the new initiative occurred in tandem with a panel discussion about audience engagement among Jane Chu, chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Arts; Robert Battle, artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; James Houghton, founding artistic director of Signature Theater; and Kelly Tweeddale, executive director of the Seattle Opera. Video of the event is available at thrivingarts.org.

Posted October 3, 2014