Dance/NYC announces the publication of its "Discovering Fiscally Sponsored Dancemakers" report. Read it HERE.
The study extends Dance/NYC's recent State of NYC Dance, based on New York State Cultural Data Project (CDP) data on nonprofit dance, to the landscape of dance artists and projects sponsored by the Foundation for Independent Artists administered by Pentacle, Fractured Atlas, New York Foundation for the Arts, New York Live Arts, and The Field. In doing so, it provides an unprecedented snapshot of some of those who make dance without their own nonprofit status, the majority of local dancemakers.
Findings help to illuminate the location and economics of fiscally sponsored dancemakers. Whereas three-quarters of nonprofit dance organizations are located in Manhattan, the lion's share of sponsored dancemakers is headquartered outside the borough, creating value for our diverse communities.
The strong start-up culture in nonprofit dance—the ability of groups with budgets of $25,000-$100,000 to make dance with limited resources—is amplified in the fiscal sponsorship arena. Sponsored dancemakers, whose average expenditures are less than $16,000, devote 83% of functional expenditures to programs, as compared to 74 percent for the smallest nonprofits, and demonstrate efficiencies in fundraising and marketing. They make paying artists a priority, committing half of total expenditures to artist fees.
It is not this study's purpose to judge the value of fiscal sponsorship over nonprofit structures, or of one fiscal sponsor over another. Nor is it to redraw a line separating professional dancemakers, often defined by livable wages, from everyone else. To quote cultural economist Diane Ragsdale, such redrawing efforts by the arts field "may be limiting its future (rather than saving it)." Instead, the study represents a best effort to speak in inclusive terms and turn attention to how fiscally sponsored dancemakers are working, and showing their considerable ingenuity, in the dance ecology. We hope it will incite expansive dialogue about the state of dance in our city, opportunities, and strategies for success for fiscally sponsored dancemakers and institutions alike.
We are in discovery mode. It is clear that far better and more uniform data is needed to tell the full story of fiscally sponsored dancemakers to guide policy, funding, and management practices. A Data Collection Comparison Form, comparing information compiled by fiscal sponsors and the CDP, is a significant outcome of this research and may help develop a consistent protocol to guide future studies.
As Dance/NYC looks to the future, and amplifies its advocacy in a changing climate, it is positioned for leadership in discipline-specific arts research. This third study published in the past twelve months, following the State of NYC Dance and Dance/NYC Junior Committee's Dance Workforce Census: Earnings Among Individuals, Ages 21-35, may serve as a research model for fiscal sponsors of other performing and visual arts. We are working closely with the Municipal Art Society of New York, and sister groups, to develop an arts-wide agenda and better understand dance within the cultural sector.
This report is ultimately a team effort. On behalf of Dance/NYC and of Dance/USA, the national service organization for professional dance, Dance/NYC Director Lane Harwell thanks the project's leading funders: The New York Community Trust, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and is grateful to researchers Ian Davis Moss and Carrie Blake for helping to prepare the report, and thank Victoria Smith, Manager of Research at Dance/USA, and Anne Coates, Vice President of MAS, for reviewing preliminary findings.
Above all, Harwell thanks the report's participating fiscal sponsors, especially Jennifer Wright Cook, Dianne Debicella, Shawn Rene Graham, Mara Greenberg, Sarah A.O. Rosner, Alexander Thompson, and Eleanor Whitney, for contributing their data, time, energy, and ideas to help Dance/NYC discover their dancemakers. We, as a field, accomplish more by working together as we have, and we will.