April 15, 2015
Topic: Arts & Culture
The University Musical Society has been selected for the New York-based Wallace Foundation's Building Audiences for Sustainability effort — a new, six-year, $52-million initiative aimed at developing practical insights into how exemplary performing arts organizations can successfully expand their audiences.
In an effort to deepen and measure community connection with the UMS Renegade Series, the Wallace Foundation will provide funding for related UMS programs for four years, starting with the 2015-16 season's initial funding of $380,000.
Utilizing a combination of UMS performances, pre- and post-show discussions, and other enriching opportunities to provide further insight into UMS's Renegade artists, this program will provide multiple points of access to artists who are celebrated worldwide for pushing boundaries of their artistic practice, making game-changing impacts on their contemporaries, their cultures, and society at large.
"We are thrilled that the Wallace Foundation has selected UMS to be a recipient of Building Audiences for Sustainability funding," said UMS President Ken Fischer.
"Southeast Michigan has a long history of incubating the thought-leaders of tomorrow. By exploring new ways to engage our regional community with the Renegade Series — a program made possible by the initial investment of Maxine and Stuart Frankel through the Renegade Venture Fund — we hope to spark imaginations, encourage new ways of thinking about the world, and foster meaningful community connections.
"These eye-opening experiences are what innovators of all ages — from kindergartners to centenarians — need to thrive and make lasting changes of their own in the world."
UMS was one of 26 arts organizations from around the country selected to be a part of the Building Audiences for Sustainability initiative. Each organization will design and implement programs to build audiences, measuring whether and how this contributes to the organization's overall financial sustainability.
In addition to performing arts presenters, the selected organizations represent a spectrum of artistic disciplines, from dance and opera companies to orchestras, theaters, and multidisciplinary arts institutions.
The selected partners will receive financial and technical support from the foundation to develop, implement, analyze and learn from their audience-building work. The evidence gathered will be documented and analyzed by a Wallace-commissioned independent team of researchers, providing valuable insights, ideas and information for the entire field.
"The arts are essential on both a personal level, providing us with experiences that open us to new perspectives, and on a community level, helping us to find common ground," said Will Miller, president of The Wallace Foundation.
"However, attracting and engaging new audiences is challenging for arts organizations because, even as the number of arts groups has grown, national rates of participation in the arts have declined, arts education has waned, and competition for ways to spend leisure time has increased.