Annenberg Foundation: Grants for Visual Art

OVERVIEW: Annenberg's grantmaking prioritizes leadership, a commitment to diversity, innovation, and organizational strength.

IP TAKE: While Annenberg makes a number of large gifts each year, the foundation is fairly democratic in its distribution of funds and makes a number of grants on a much smaller scale as well.

PROFILE: The Annenberg Foundation was founded by Walter Annenberg who, upon the occasion of his death in late 2002, gave $1 billion to the Metropolitan Museum of art and another $375 million to found the foundation. It seeks to encourage “the development of effective ways to share ideas and knowledge,” and the foundation is “committed to core values of responsiveness, accessibility, fairness and involvement.” Annenberg supports the visual arts through its Arts & Culture initiative.

On its grantmaking page, Annenberg expresses a forgiving attitude unique among many foundations. The foundation describes itself as "willing to take measured risks with a tolerance for occasional failure," if that is what it takes to find the truly worthy grantees. Also worth noting is that Annenberg states that it prioritizes "nonprofit organizations serving Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties."

Annenberg gives the majority of its big grantmaking funding to large institutions with buildings that will (eventually) bear the Annenberg name. For instance, the foundation awarded the University of Southern California a total of $100 million in two grants — $50 million for the Annenberg Academic Building that will house classes in journalism and media to "foster creativity" and another $50 million to support the construction of the Annenberg Academic Building. The foundation awarded a smaller grant of $5 million a few years ago for the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.

Such big grantmaking numbers may cause one to believe that the Annenberg Foundation will only make grants to projects that it will bear its name. Fortunately, that is not true: the foundation awards arts grants each year, large and small. What is better is that its artistic interests are very widespread. Past grantees include: $25,000 to MoMA for the exhibition Bill Brandt: Shadow and Light; $100,000 to the World Monument Fund to restore the Church of San Pedro Apostol; $16,000 to Theatre of Note for three productions of A Mulholland Christmas Carol; $200,000 to Opera Fuoco to support the cost of a period instrument orchestra; $300,000 to the Museum of Jurassic Technology for a Goran Djordjevic collaboration and for general operating support; $1 million to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; $250,000 to the Delta Music Institute for the support of its Mobile Music Lab.

Grant seekers can find more information about grantmaking guidelines here. Generally, grants are for one year, and range between $10,000 and $100,000.


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