Stabilizing the arts Milestone reached: First phase of project to aid arts groups completed, though challenges remain.

July 03, 1998

LOCAL ARTS supporters, as well as six arts groups and their staffs, are to be congratulated for a milestone.

The last of the institutions -- the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra -- recently met the rigorous financial and other goals necessary to qualify for a grant from the Baltimore Arts Stabilization Project, a partnership between National Arts Stabilization (NAS) and a local committee of contributing corporations and foundations.

The other participating arts organizations are Center Stage, the Walters Arts Gallery, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Maryland Institute College of Art and the Baltimore Opera Company. Together, they were able to improve current liquidity by $4.7 million, increase working capital reserves by $7.5 million and increase endowments by $72.8 million during the time they worked with NAS. The grants, including one to the BSO, total $5.7 million.

NAS, a spinoff of the Ford Foundation, provides help to 76 arts groups in six areas around the country. In Arizona, it has moved to the second phase of its efforts to ensure organizations develop sound management and financial practices by reaching out to mid-sized arts groups.

Similar organizations in Baltimore -- with budgets between $100,000 and $2 million -- could benefit from such support. Mid-sized arts and cultural organizations are, in fact, even more likely to need help in addressing issues such as working capital reserves and management structure.

The Baltimore Arts Stabilization Project is an important one. With this first phase of its efforts complete (though for those involved in fundraising the job is never done), it may be time for the effort to branch out.

Pub Date: 7/03/98

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