DeVos Institute Releases Study of Arts Organizations of Color

September 30, 2015

The DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland today released an in-depth exploration of the challenges facing arts organizations of color in the United States.

"Diversity in the Arts: The Past, Present, and Future of African American and Latino Museums, Dance Companies, and Theater Companies" addresses the current state of these organizations, as well as the historical roots of their vulnerability. The DeVos Institute also considers the future in this paper, offering recommendations for these organizations, the funding community, and everyone who values a diverse, vibrant, and sustainable cultural sector.

Although a few are thriving, this paper highlights the precarious condition of all too many African American and Latino organizations. For example: 

  • The median budget size of the 20 largest arts organizations of color surveyed by the DeVos Institute is more than 90 percent smaller than that of their largest mainstream counterparts.
  • Arts organizations of color surveyed by the DeVos Institute reported a median of only 5 percent of total contributed revenue from individual donors, indicating a disproportionate reliance on government and foundation grants that are—in general—increasingly less secure.
  • Nearly half of the nation's 20 largest arts organizations of color surveyed in this study ran deficits of at least 10 percent of their total FY13 annual budgets.

African American and Latino arts organizations are absolutely essential to the American arts ecology. In addition to producing remarkable art, they provide access to the arts for communities of color, bring arts education programs to children who have lost access to them in their public schools, and offer training for emerging artists. They may also correct historically propagated racial stereotypes or simply delight their audiences. For these reasons—and countless more—these organizations matter.

The DeVos Institute hopes that this study will encourage people to look at the challenges of arts organizations of color in a new way. The Institute also hopes that leaders of every community will be moved to work together to ensure that the arts of every segment of our varied society are allowed to thrive.

This study was commissioned by the University of Maryland, College Park. 

Click here to read more. 


Joseph Heitz, Director, External Relations

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