The Aspen Institute Program on Philanthropy and Social Innovation Releases Groundbreaking Report on Private Foundations Endowed by Visual Artists in the US

November 15, 2010

Contact Eric Boehm
Program on Philanthropy and Social Innovation
(202) 736-5855

Washington, DC, November 15, 2010—The Aspen Institute’s Program on Philanthropy and Social Innovation (PSI) announces the release of a new report on the emerging field of private foundations endowed by visual artists in the U.S. The Artist as Philanthropist: Strengthening the Next Generation of Artist-Endowed Foundations draws on findings of the Aspen Institute’s National Study of Artist-Endowed Foundations, the first research effort to focus on this distinctive charitable form. Initiated in 2007, the Study identified 300 artist-endowed foundations holding $2.5 billion in assets, including more than $1 billion in art assets. Between 1990 and 2005, the number of these foundations nearly doubled, while charitable purpose disbursements for the period totaled $954 million—$639 million in grants and $315 million in charitable administrative costs, including for direct operation of activities such as exhibition programs, study centers, and artists’ residencies. Though only a small portion of all private foundations in the US, artist-endowed foundations are poised to be a force shaping cultural philanthropy and stewarding the country’s contemporary art patrimony.

The two-volume publication, which can be viewed online, down loaded, and purchased in hard copy at, provides leaders in philanthropy, the arts, education, and journalism with an overview of the emerging artist-endowed foundation field, its origins, current status, trends, and prospects. Snapshot profiles outline data for more than 130 foundations reporting assets of at least $1 million. In addition, the publication offers artist-donors, their advisors, and foundation leaders a summary of considerations in forming, sustaining, and terminating artist-endowed foundations as well as planning and conducting foundations’ charitable programs. Briefing papers by scholars in the arts and philanthropy address key issues in foundation practice and an annotated bibliography cites references on formation and administration of artist-endowed foundations and their programs.   

The Study is led by Christine J. Vincent, former Ford Foundation deputy director for Arts and Culture, and supported by a 20-member donor consortium, including the Getty Foundation, Ford Foundation, and Henry Luce Foundation, as well as the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, and Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Members of the Study Committee advising research include Alberta Arthurs, former director, Arts and Culture, Rockefeller Foundation; Charles C. Bergman, chairman and chief executive officer, Pollock-Krasner Foundation; James T. Demetrion, director emeritus, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution; Lowery Stokes Sims, curator, Museum of Arts and Design; James Allen Smith, vice president and director of research and education, Rockefeller Archive Center; and Stephen K. Urice, associate professor of law, University of Miami School of Law.

The Aspen Institute Program on Philanthropy and Social Innovation (PSI) seeks to inform and maximize the impact of grantmaking foundations, nonprofit organizations, social enterprises, and public-private partnerships through leadership development initiatives, convenings, and communications so that each can contribute to the good society at home and abroad.

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