Bethany Jean Fales, with edits and additions by Allison Gehl
Philanthropy is an ancient concept that means “love of humanity”. It is most closely connected with the non-profit sector, in which people work together through a voluntary action intended for the public good (Payton and Moody, Pg. 6). The role of philanthropy in our society can be to provide a service, advocate for reform, preserve culture, or enhance civil society, or simply, people working to make the world a better place. This can be as simple as volunteering your time or donating money to a specific cause. No one person can explain exactly what humanity considers the sole idea of the public good, as everyone’s pursuit of happiness is different.
There are hundreds of different areas of philanthropic interest to donors and volunteers, and arts, culture, and humanities are a large area of interest to donors and volunteers. According to Giving USA 2015, giving to the Arts, Cultures, and Humanities makes up 5% of total contributions by recipient category.
Experiential Learning is a theory that is a founding idea behind service learning. Educational theorists like John Dewey, Kurt Lewin, and Jean Piaget supported the idea that the individual learner should act as an active agent in the learning process through his or her interaction with the surrounding environment (Stewart 1990). This theory is an element that people must accept in service-learning activities, because part of the service-learning experience is to educate oneself while helping fulfill community needs. The community can be looked at as the "surrounding environment" talked about in experiential learning.
Community Service and service learning are two terms that people combine as being the same. This is not the case. One of the main differences in the two terms, is that while community service is the act that is accomplished through service learning, community service can be done by any person not only students through an educational institution. In this way, community service might be viewed as a one-way exchange and thought of as charity.
The Arts in school generally include studies such as visual art, dance, drama, music, literature, and communications/media (television; film; radio; etc.). Schools have started to incorporate service learning projects into the arts discipline at all grade levels.
At the inception of the United States in 1776, our country was lucky enough to have a leader and supporter of the arts in Thomas Jefferson. His refined taste in visual art, music, and architecture led to his belief that the arts were “as necessary to a knowledge of the state as language, ethics, history, geography, philosophy and the sciences” (Smith, Pg. 15). Art brought the country together, showing the beautiful landscapes and portraits of the elite class, even through the division of the Civil War.
As industrialization and wealth increased, individuals were able to create and give to institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and the Art Institute of Chicago. Not only were these places where beautiful national art was displayed, but they introduced “growing throngs of urban dwellers to artistic treasures” (Smith, Pg. 23). This Gilded Age, from the 1870s to around 1900, paved the way for the “American Renaissance,” funded by men like Andrew Carnegie and Cornelius Vanderbilt, who also helped to lead the way in American philanthropic giving.
After the Great Depression, New Deal, and World War II, Americans enjoyed a time of prosperity during the 1950s. In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson formed the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). This federal agency was “established to nurture American creativity, to elevate the nation’s culture, and to sustain and preserve the country’s many artistic traditions” (Bauerlein, Pg. 1). The NEA’s mission was to “spread artistic prosperity throughout the land,” from urban to rural neighborhoods. This agency helped to enhance the “vibrancy of (our) civil society,” continuing the importance of art that had been engrained in our society for centuries.
According to Cherbo, Stewart, and Wyszomirski, the NEA produced a study that found that "39 to 41 percent of the adult U.S. population attended a 'benchmark' art form at least once per year" (Cherbo, Pg. 13). These benchmark art forms include operas, symphony orchestras, musicals, ballets, and many others. These are all usually well-attended events, some of which people have been attending their entire lives. If you also include people participating in any sort of art, it reaches "over 90 percent" of the population (Cherbo, Pg. 13). It is very easy to think of something artistic that you, or member of your family, have taken part in. This could be a drawing class, visiting a city museum, or even reading a particularly moving piece of literature. Art is all around you!
The importance of art and philanthropy will increase in future decades, as we see a growth in the creative sector. In Richard Florida’s book, The Rise of the Creative Class, he explains that as bohemianism and social freedom increases, so will the “economic need for creativity.” (Florida, Pg. 8). Florida suggests that as we see the age of marriage and alternative lifestyles increase, the U.S may see a less formal, creative people. This creative class is dominant in terms of wealth and income, “with its members earning nearly twice as much on average as members of the (service and working class)” (Florida, Pg. 10). One can argue that arts and philanthropy will have to continue to grow as “human creativity (becomes) the defining feature of our economic life” (Florida, Pg. 15). It is our job to educate a workforce, as young children grow, and begin to fill the positions of this creative sector.
When it comes to preserving art in our society, it is also important to recognize the need for support. The main source to keep these institutions running is from the private sector, meaning individual donations, and audience support. Take for example, an American symphony orchestra. Half of its income comes from donations, both from annual gifts and revenue from an endowment, and 42 percent of its income comes from paid concert revenue, such as ticket or event sales (Philanthropy Roundtable). This means that only six percent of their funds come from the government. Since the percentage of private support is so high, one might think that it might not be an important area to donate to. Our society has seen examples of how fragile art can be. Major symphony orchestras have suffered from cancelled seasons, bankruptcies, and defaulting on real estate loans. Because of this fragility, it is important to stress both in schools, and throughout society, that music and art can make a large impact on our population. Art is an integral part of our society and on the success of the United States as a whole in the decades to come.
Research has been done on the effects of arts education in schools. Education Week performed a study in which some students attended a play, while the other half did not attend, and served as a control group. They found that these "arts experiences boost critical thinking, teaching students to take the time to be more careful and thorough in how they observe the world," and make a call to action as educators that "if the arts and culture are to remain a vibrant part of children's education, arts patrons will need to step forward to help pay for the kind of quality research that shows not only what those benefits are, but just how significant they can be" (Greene). Scientific American’s board of editors has also stated that “studies have shown that assiduous instrument training from an early age can help the brain to process sounds better, making it easier to stay focused when absorbing other subjects, from literature to tensor calculus.” (Scientific American, Online).
Ties to the Philanthropic Sector
Americans for the Arts published a study entitled “Arts and Economic Prosperity,” which concluded that the “arts provided significant positive returns to the economy during a time of national economic turmoil” (Dorfman). The study found that “nationally, the industry generated $135.2 billion of economic activity. This economic activity supports 4.1 million full-time jobs and also generates $22.3 billion in revenue to local, state, and federal governments every year” (Dorfman). Arts in the nonprofit sector constitute approximately "55,000 organizations and 11 percent of all reporting organizations" (Cherbo, Pg. 16). Even some of the most major art entities in the country are classified as a non-profit, and these, and smaller groups, help to provide education, inspiration, and joy, to all who are able to partake in their product.
The Los Angeles Times reported that “Americans' donation to arts, culture and humanities grew 9.2% in 2014,” which is the fastest of all philanthropic sectors. A majority of the large gifts were also given by “relatively young tech-entrepreneurs.” As Generation X and the Millennials grow older, it will be wonderful to see this giving increase, as the need to art, culture, and philanthropy, remains apparent in our ever-changing society.
The National Endowment for the Arts: https://www.arts.gov/
Americans for the Arts: http://www.americansforthearts.org/
Music For All: http://www.musicforall.org/
Inside Philanthropy – Arts Education: http://www.insidephilanthropy.com/arts-education/
America’s 50 Top Donors, including 12 Arts Philanthropists: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2012/02/chronicle-philanthropy-top-arts-donors.html
David Rockefeller on Art: http://www.forbes.com/2003/03/05/cx_0305conn.html
John Dewey (1859-1952) His educational theory addresses what service learning is about. He believed that the theories and thought taught in school, needed to connect to the environment and the issues men face (Wirth26). This idea is seen today when schools do service learning projects as they take the information they learn in class to help with community needs outside the classroom.
David A. Kolb (1939-) developed a process that models steps a learner will go through when performing an act of service learning. In his model students perform the service, reflect on it, organize the thoughts to understand the world around them, and then use those thoughts to experiment with other activities. If successful, hopefully the individual feels fulfilled and motivated to repeat the steps (Stewart 31). (1939-)developed a process that models steps a learner will go through when performing an act of service learning. In his model students perform the service, reflect on it, organize the thoughts to understand the world around them, and then use those thoughts to experiment with other activities. If successful, hopefully the individual feels fulfilled and motivated to repeat the steps (Stewart 31).
Middle School Question:
What is one form of art you have participated in? If it was a positive experience, how would you describe it to other people to get them to participate/and or donate to the cause?
High School Question:
Why is art important to American society? Do you think funding (both through the private and public) should increase, decrease, or stay the same? Why?
Bibliography and Internet Sources
Bauerlein, Mark, and Ellen Grantham. National Endowment for the Arts: A History, 1965-2008. Washington, DC: National Endowment for the Arts, 2009. Print.
Boehm, Mike. "Arts Philanthropy Booming, Cultural Giving Rises 9.2%, New Study ……Says." Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 16 June 2015. Web. http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/culture/la-et-cm-arts-philanthropy-giving-usa-report-2015-20150615-story.html
Brown, Brian, and Jarom McDonald. "The Arts and Culture." Major Achievements of ……American Philanthropy. The Philanthropy Roundtable, Web. http://www.philanthropyroundtable.org/almanac/the_arts_and_culture/
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Peace Corps. What is the Peace Corps? Accessed 20 November 2005. http://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=learn.whatispc.
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This paper was developed by a PhD student at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. It is offered by Learning To Give and Indiana University at Indianapolis.