Birth and Mortality Rates of Arts and Cultural Organizations (ACOs), 1990-2010
IssueFinances and attendance of arts organizations
Using official filings of arts and culture charities with at least $50,000 in revenues, this American report examines the sustainability of organizations between 1990 and 2010 in six metropolitan areas: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Miami, and San Francisco. In the context of the arts, the report defines sustainability “as a community’s capacity to support the resiliency and long-term vitality of their unique cultural assets, contributing to a more vibrant cultural infrastructure for the nation as a whole”.
Across the six metropolitan areas, there were 1,613 arts and culture organizations in 1990, 2,704 in 2000, and 3,682 in 2010. For every arts and culture organization in 1990, there were 1.7 organizations in 2000 and 2.3 organizations in 2010. Each of the six metropolitan areas experienced significant growth in arts and culture organizations during this timeframe.
Concerning organizations that existed in 1990, there was a 76% survival rate in the six metropolitan areas after one decade (i.e., 76% of organizations that were active in 1990 remained active in 2000). Over the whole 20-year period, there was a 64% survival rate. There were moderate differences in the 20-year survival rates between the metropolitan areas, ranging from 59% in Atlanta and Detroit to 66% in San Francisco.
Examined differently, 54% of the organizations that were active in 2010 were new (i.e., not active or reporting in 1990), while the other 46% had existed in 1990.
Compared with the average 64% survival rate over the 20-year period, which organizations were most likely to survive? The report finds that organizations with revenues above $5 million had the highest survival rates (86% for those with revenues between $5 million and $10 million and 92% for those with revenues over $10 million). The lowest survival rates were among the smallest organizations (44% for those with revenues between $50,000 and $59,999 and 52% for those between $60,000 and $79,999).
Arts and culture organizations with higher levels of assets were also more likely to survive. Organizations with total assets of $250,000 or more had the highest survival rates (84% for those with assets between $250,000 and $499,999, 87% for those with assets between $500,000 and $1 million, and 85% for those with assets of $1 million or more). The lowest survival rates were among organizations with assets below $10,000 (56%).
Among cultural disciplines, humanities and music organizations were most likely to survive (survival rates of 78% and 74%, respectively). Dance organizations were least likely to survive (55%).
Data in the report also indicate that organizations with very high contributed revenues (i.e., public and private fundraising) were least likely to survive: only 52% of organizations with contributed revenues of 90% or more in 1990 were still active in 2000. Similarly, 52% of organizations with contributed revenues of 90% or more in 2000 were still active in 2010.
The report did not examine the possible impacts of policy, funding, or engagement patterns on the sustainability of arts and culture organizations.