Key Point

Many local nonprofit organizations receive more than two-thirds of their revenue from private philanthropic gifts.

Let's Break It Down

Public funding for the arts is much lower in Nebraska than funding arts nonprofits receive from private sources.

Nebraska’s legislature spends approximately $1.5 million (or $0.80 per capita) on arts through the state legislature. Iowa spends approximately $1.2 million (or $0.39 per capita). This funding goes to support and enhance arts and humanities projects throughout the states. However, this government-funded support has dropped recently; from 2017 to 2018 the Nebraska legislature spent two percent less on arts funding.

To complement public support, many nonprofits in the area rely heavily on private donations to meet funding needs. In 2018, the Arts Vibrancy Index ranked the Omaha-Council Bluffs metro area as in the top four percent of cities nationally for all arts contributions.

Why Does It Matter

Strong, stable support from both government funding and private philanthropy ensures that more people are able to enjoy the arts.

This is especially true for individuals or communities who may not otherwise be able to afford the full cost of participating in arts programming or accessing arts institutions. However, studies show that a disproportionate amount of funding typically goes to larger cultural institutions. According to a 2017 study, “Not Just Money,” 90% of arts nonprofits have budgets under $1 million, yet they receive only 21% of the total grants, gifts, and contributions. Additionally, the same study found that while organizations focused on communities of color make up 25% of all arts nonprofits, they only receive 4% of all foundation giving.

Public and private funding can also help collaborations thrive among arts organizations, that otherwise may not be possible. Some cities —including Minneapolis and Austin—have brought together arts organizations and government to establish an arts 'master plan.' These collective efforts helps can help spur additional investment for arts nonprofits and can help integrate arts and culture into the broader goals of a region.

How Do We Compare?

Public funding for the arts is much lower in Nebraska and Iowa compared to other states.

Nationally, Nebraska is ranked 31st, and Iowa ranked 44th in government spending on arts and culture. Yet, our local nonprofits bring in high revenues when compared to other cities. On average, arts and culture nonprofits in the metro area earn an average of $746,390 annually. This average revenue is higher than both Des Moines ($693,570) and Lincoln ($400,340), but lower than Kansas City whose arts nonprofits bring in an average of $829,621.

Data Source: Creative Vitality Suite, National Assembly of State Arts Agencies

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