What does the fiscal crisis mean for arts organizations?

The Philanthropy News Digest reports on an article from the Washington Post.

With Wall Street in turmoil and many large companies facing mergers, bankruptcy, or other hurdles, those in the arts community are increasingly nervous about how mounting economic woes will affect corporate donations, the Washington Post reports.

Charitable giving to arts groups — 13 percent of total corporate giving in 2006, according to the Giving USA Foundation — has always been the low-hanging fruit for companies looking to cut costs. Moreover, when companies merge, the generosity of the combined entity rarely equals the sum of its once independent parts. A spokesperson for Bank of America, which has agreed to acquire Merrill Lynch, said the future of Merrill’s philanthropy has yet to be decided, although in the past Bank of America has honored the existing philanthropic commitments of companies it has acquired. Similarly, future giving by Lehman Brothers, which declared bankruptcy earlier this week, is also uncertain, as what happens to its philanthropic foundation, like everything else about the company, is now a matter for the courts.

Nobody can predict what this will mean, but my hunch is that it will not be good for arts funding.

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