In most nonprofits, a donor gives and someone else benefits. Food banks solve hunger, which promotes family stability, which stimulates re-entry into society for the impoverished. Environmental nonprofits encourage clean air and water, which promotes health, which supports longer, happier lives for everyone. Many religious organizations sponsor high morals (“Do unto others…”), which provides a sense of community, which fosters a safety net.
In the arts, the donor and the recipient are often the same person. The donor gives to a company, the company produces a performance or exhibit, and the donor/recipient enjoys the event. The arts are seen by many as elitist and unworthy of support.
We in the arts have to recognize that there is an enmity-laden relationship between arts nonprofits and all the other charities.
And then we have to do something about it.
[…] A few posts ago, we talked about the enmity brewing between the arts charities and the rest of the charity sector. That many US arts charities concentrate on the quality of their art while the rest of the sector concentrates on outcomes. That arts charities are pretty much the only part of the charity sector in which the donor also uses the charity, exacerbating the arts’ reputation as being elitist. […]