While giving to a museum or art institution can certainly provide a nice tax benefit, there are added benefits to the community.
Colleen Russell Criste, the deputy director and chief philanthropy officer at the Cleveland Museum of Art; Alex Vukoder, director of advancement at the Akron Art Museum; and Stephen H. Hoffman, member of the board of trustees of The Cleveland Orchestra, said it’s important to support music and the arts because they connect us to being human.
“The root of it is down to a belief that so many of us have that art is really at the root of what it means to be human,” Criste said. “And by that, I mean we are a source for inspiring creativity.”
Supporting an institution like the Cleveland Museum of Art helps the museum to operate and provide free admission to the community to come see high-quality artwork from their own collection and borrowed exhibits.
The museum also recently opened a community arts center on West 25th Street in Cleveland to provide art making and education art classes, Criste said. Donations also help to bring school groups to the museum as well as conservation of the artwork.
“For us, it’s how we operate,” she said. “We don’t have earned income like through ticket sales, through other kind of revenue. Our primary form of revenue is philanthropy.”
Another art museum with a long history of serving the community is the Akron Art Museum which also relies on philanthropic support for its programming.
“For 100 years, the Akron Art Museum has served as the community by providing interactive, inclusive and exciting programming for all in addition to outstanding exhibitions including works from the museum’s expansive 7,000-piece permanent collection,” Vukoder said.
Throughout the year, the museum brings in exhibits from local, regional, national and international artists in various mediums and serves the community with numerous educational programs for diverse audiences, Vukoder said.
“The museum has a hybrid model with delivery of in-person programs and events accompanied by robust social media and digital engagement opportunities,” Vukoder said, “from drop-in art-making experiences to at-home activities.”
She added that “support is critical to sustain the museum, develop new audiences, support creative programming and further engage the community.”
While art institutions certainly rely on support from the community, they also have a lot to offer.
“These institutions are the embodiment of human civilization, values, inspirations and creativity,” Hoffman said.
Not only does supporting The Cleveland Orchestra help to sustain world-class musicianship and what Hoffman calls “one of Cleveland’s great calling cards in the world,” but it also supports educational programs and upkeep of the facilities.
“Philanthropy is a critical aspect of maintaining a world-class orchestra,” Hoffman said. “So if one values music, if one values having the finest possible representation of that music, then people like me have to consider philanthropic support.”