Saturday, June 27, 2009

Americans for the Arts Exposed

In the previous post below, I noted the supposed Americans for the Arts supposed study showing that the city's $2.5 million investment in the arts netted Indianapolis $500 million, a phenomenal return of 20,000%. Why shouldn't we believe an outfit called the "Americans for the Arts?"

In its website, Americans for the Arts outlines its mission:

With offices in Washington, DC and New York, and more than 5,000 organizational and individual members and stakeholders across the country, we are focused on three primary goals:
  1. Foster an environment in which the arts can thrive and contribute to the creation of more livable communities.

  2. Generate more public- and private-sector resources for the arts and arts ducation.

  3. Build individual appreciation of the value of the arts.

To achieve our goals, we partner with local, state, and national arts organizations; government agencies; business leaders; individual philanthropists; educators; and funders throughout the country. We provide extensive arts industry research, and information and professional development opportunities for community arts leaders via specialized programs and services, including a content-rich website and an annual national convention.

Local arts agencies throughout the United States comprise our core constituency. A variety of unique stakeholder groups with particular interests like public art, united arts fundraising, rural and small communities, state arts agencies, and emerging arts leaders are also supported.

Through national visibility and local outreach, we strive to motivate and mobilize opinion leaders and decision-makers who can make the arts thrive in America.

Ah, Americans for the Arts...yet another philanthropic group out there just trying to promote starving artists nationwide, right? Uh, no. Let's take a look at the salaries of the organization's executives.

  • Robert Lynch, President and CEO, $654,848

  • Mara Walker, Chief Planning Officer, $174,760

  • Nina Ozlu, Chief Counsel, $191,998

  • Gary Steuer, V.P. Private Sector Affairs, $180,530

  • Robert B. Stanley, V.P. Finance, $152,319

  • Marrc Ian Tobias, V.P. Operations, $145,653

  • Randy Cohen, V.P. Res & Info, $165,926

According to its 2007 tax return, Americans for the Arts total revenue in 2007 was $7,927,309. That year they spent almost $6 million of its income on salaries and benefits for its officers and employees. How much of that revenue did its "constituent" arts groups including the Arts Council of Indianapolis receive? In 2007, Americans for the Arts spent $1,155,755 on its "constituents," which is not even a 1/4 of what the organization spent on its own salaries and benefits.

Other interesting figures from the 2007 return include that the Americans for the Arts has over $160 million in accumulated assets, including over $24 million invested in stocks and securities.

Supporters of the arts might want to think twice before giving money to an organization that is obviously more interested in enriching themselves financially than helping out starving artists.

1 comment:

M Theory said...

Nice new look, Paul. Arts administrators get more money than the artists they serve. Figures.

Are they getting federal tax dollars? If so, we need to write to Obama's administration to point out a good place to cut.