If there hasn’t been enough to show you that Denver’s art scene is buzzing, then what about a special invitation from Bloomberg Philanthropies that will give Denver art organizations money?
Announced last week, Denver will be one of seven cities to be awarded grants from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Arts Innovation and Management (AIM) program in 2018. Perhaps this is because Denver’s art scene generated $1.8 billion in economic activity in 2016 and has only been growing since — giving the AIM a reason to invite the Mile High City. AIM is an invitation-only program that helps art and culture nonprofits with organizational management, fundraising, marketing, board development and strategic planning — to ensure their success and the longevity of arts and culture in cities across the country. The grant includes an unrestricted budget (meaning the organizations can use it for whatever they need to — including rent) and support from AIM members over two years.
Denver’s portion of the $43 million will be divided between multiple organizations within the city. Those budgets awarded will be determined based on the operating budget of each individual organization, and generally speaking, the size of each grant is equal to 10 percent of the organization’s annual operating budget.
Started in 2011, exclusively in New York City, the AIM program expanded nationwide in 2015, giving grants to Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Of those awarded, 76 percent used the grant to secure additional funding, 64 percent increased their total income and 70 percent improved board member engagement. On top of grant money from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the selected cities also receive support and training from members of the DeVos Institute of Art Management.
Some of the success stories from past recipients include an internet radio show who increased their listeners to over 200,000 per week and a dance company who was able to expand their social media outreach tenfold. Overall, the 260 organizations spread across the six cities significantly benefited from the resources given by AIM and the benefits were diversified within each city as well.
Instead of awarding a single grant to one organization, AIM offers multiple grants per city to both broaden the impact and narrow the focus. Organizations that exist under a niche, or that serve a specialized demographic, may normally exist between the lines of other grant requirements, leaving them overlooked and underfunded. But with AIM, small and midsize nonprofits are the exclusive recipients of these grants — a decision based on the importance of such nonprofits in community building, their ability to drive local economies and their tight operating budgets. As Michael Kaiser of DeVos Institute of Art Management stated in a video describing the program, “the city focus of the AIM program is unique, allowing us to work with so many different organizations in one city and watching not only an organization change but an entire arts ecology change.”
Since the announcement was only made last week, the list of Denver nonprofits to receive money and resources has not yet been released, and will most likely stay secret until August, when the invitation closes. The other cities to share the $43 million investment are Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.