Why Give to the Arts?

Friday, 02 May 2014 04:04 PM Written by  David Pankratz



There are 350 arts and culture organizations in Allegheny County, and 143 more in the surrounding counties of Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Washington, and Westmoreland counties. 198 are in the performing arts (dance, music, theater, festivals, and presenters), 187 are museums & galleries (art museums, science and nature museums, and historical sites), 58 are community and school-based arts programs, and 38 are service providers.  Just six have budgets over $10 million. The majority, 160, are small arts non-profits, with budgets between $25,000 and $250,000.    

All of that is to say: there’s no limit to the range and types of area arts organizations that individuals can donate to - from the after-school arts program to the opera, symphony, or ballet, to a jazz preservation society, and everything in between. 

But WHY give to one (or more) of the many arts and culture organizations in our region on Day of Giving, this coming Tuesday, May 6th?  Many people donate because of a personal connection—maybe they took classes at a museum once, and want to make sure the museum will still be there for their grandkids. Other personal reasons to give to the arts: to change someone’s life, to feel connected to one’s community, or to leave a legacy. Some are motivated to give by the love of an art form, a tradition, an arts organization, or a particular artist.

Others donate to the arts out of self-interest: to receive a tax-break, to build a social network, to display good form to co-workers, or to be hip. That’s all OK.  People have different motivations. It’s the end result that counts. (BTW, there’s no shortage of hip arts & culture organizations in greater Pittsburgh.) 

Some calculate that ticket income, sales, memberships, foundations, and corporate support don’t pay for all the expenses an arts organization faces, so they donate to help fill in that gap. 

Others give to the arts after asking themselves, “Why not give to basic human service organizations instead?”  They resolve that dilemma by giving to both the arts and human services OR to one of the many arts programs dedicated to outreach to underserved communities.  

Finally, there are those who take the big picture view and give because the arts generate public value by: generating jobs, household income, and tax revenues; driving tourism; improving healthcare; increasing student academic performance; spurring innovation, and sparking creativity and innovation.  

Whatever your reason for giving, please consider donating to one (or more) of the many arts and culture organizations in the Greater Pittsburgh region on May 6thwww.pittsburghgives.org. There are lots of reasons to do it! Thank you! 


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