Our Funding Approach

Steady Support for a Thriving Ecosystem

Applying for grants can be an arduous and time-consuming process–but it doesn’t have to be. As artists, administrators, audience members, and funders, we recognize that philanthropy has to evolve to better respect and meet the needs of members of our community. Through providing consistent, flexible funding, we strive to create conditions where the performing arts can truly thrive in New York City.

Brooklyn Raga Massive, BRM In D Ensemble at Spring Hill Arts Gathering.  Photo by Adrien Tillmann.

Why We Start By Asking “What Do You Need?"

No one knows more about running a nonprofit arts organization than the folks that run nonprofit arts organizations. That’s why we invite grantees to share with us what they really need–then we work to build grant recommendations that address just that.

We could rely solely on traditional models of data collection or budget size to guide our funding, but the scope of the New York City arts community means that a traditional, one-size-fits-all model of philanthropy doesn’t work for us. We recognize that each grantee has their own unique needs and considerations and that we have to meet them where they are. By dedicating funding efforts to a trust-based approach and embracing the flexibility required to respond to the individual needs of each grantee, we aim to improve the lives of artists, create more access to arts, and foster a sense of respect and appreciation for all performing art forms. 

What Does Steady and Reliable
Grantmaking Look Like?

Harlem Chamber Players, Orchestra Concert. Photo by Bob Curtis.

Acknowledging power dynamics & moving beyond the written word

  • Approach our work with integrity and respect for artists and arts workers. We appreciate the significant time it takes to pursue funding. We acknowledge the inherent power dynamics and in response, strive to be candid about our processes, and create relationships based on transparency and trust. 
  • Take the time to interact with our applicants and grantees beyond the written application by engaging in conversations that provide insight into specific needs. We prioritize attending performances and other programming as often as possible.

St. Ann’s Warehouse, The Jungle. Photo by Teddy Wolff.

Working to undo the harmful legacies of philanthropy

  • Recognize the inequities that institutional philanthropy has created and perpetuated. We commit to supporting organizations that have been traditionally undercapitalized due to systemic racism and other discriminatory practices.

Ballet Hispánico, Homebound/Alaala. Photo by Paula Lobo.

Treating applicants as experts and grantees as peers

  • Defer to our applicants and grantees as the experts about their work. Our staff is made up of former and current practicing artists and arts workers, and we approach our grantmaking with that lived experience. At the same time, we recognize the limits of our knowledge. We trust our grantees, and we encourage them to lead the way.  
  • Value collaboration, both internally and externally. We approach our grantmaking collectively and by consensus. We encourage resource-sharing and partnerships amongst the organizations we support and amongst our peer funders.    

Sō Percussion, Third Construction at Zankel Hall. Photo by Stefan Cohen.

Prioritizing flexibility and responsiveness

  • Support and encourage the creativity of our grantees and seek to embody creative approaches in our grantmaking. We know that no two organizations are alike, and no two grants are alike either. We celebrate the uniqueness of each organization and do not fund with predetermined formulas. Instead, we tailor our grantmaking to reflect the distinctive needs of each grantee. 
  • Commit to continuously learning and seeking feedback from applicants, grantees, and the field. We welcome research in order to understand the issues impacting our grantees, and we shift our processes as we learn.    
  • Encourage flexibility and recognize that change and adaptation are necessary parts of both our work and the work of our grantees. Our mission is more important than our systems.