Artists and Economic Development

Strengthening the role of arts, culture, and creativity is essential to a community’s economic growth, cultural vibrancy, and resiliency. Efforts around the country are recognizing how artists and cultural organizations can contribute to economic development.

We understand that arts and culture organizations bring jobs, tax dollars and tourism revenue to local communities. However, artists and creative workers often struggle financially and lack the resources to build their businesses. Just like other successful enterprises and small businesses, artists can overcome these obstacles if they have access to training and financing. These supports increase their ability to be effective economic contributors to their communities.

The Thriving Cultures Program supports efforts that provide artists with business training and financial resources that enable them to be, and create, valuable economic assets for their communities.

What we fund:

We seek funding opportunities that:

  • Operate business and entrepreneurship training programs for artists and cultural organizations;
  • Provide financing to artists and artist-centered enterprises (such as financial institutions and resource providers);
  • Support arts and culture-based programs and services that directly engage and support the people who live and work in the area as a strategy for equitable economic development. These activities may include:
    • Cultural programming
    • Business incentives that help build the local creative economy
    • Cross-sector collaborations that yield opportunities for all residents to reap the cultural and economic benefits from neighborhood growth
  • Document (both qualitatively and quantitatively) the growth of arts-based, creative industries in neighborhoods;
  • Identify and share best practices in order to strengthen the field of arts and economic development.

We give preference to organizations that:

  • Embrace artistic and design excellence;
  • Find innovative ways to use arts and culture to make communities more just and sustainable;
  • Prioritize the needs of low-income communities and people of color in their work;
  • Maintain sound financial practices and management;
  • Demonstrate a capacity and willingness to share best practices and knowledge with their colleagues and others in the field;
  • Partner with public and/or private entities that are committed to fostering artists and the field of arts and culture;
  • Demonstrate a commitment to economic and cultural equity;
  • Engage the deep reserves of talent, civic pride, and leadership of a community and proactively address its needs.

We do not fund:

  • Individuals

How to apply:

If you are interested in applying for a Surdna Foundation grant, please submit a letter of inquiry by clicking here. Please note: We only support organizations that meet the guidelines listed under "What we fund."

Program Related Investments

Surdna's Program Related Investment Fund supports the foundation’s mission by providing investment capital to fund innovations that use market-based approaches to address economic, cultural, and environmental challenges.

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