Hearst Foundations: Grants for Visual Arts

OVERVIEW: The Hearst Foundations have an overarching mission to “build healthy, productive, and inspiring lives.” They seek to achieve this by supporting well-established non-profit organizations that operate in the realms of culture, education, health, and social service.

IP TAKE: Grants from the Hearst Foundations are for already high-achieving organizations with an operating budget of at least $1 million. Hearst’s focus on culture includes a substantial commitment to visual arts. Like all of their arts funding, this support skews toward artist development and outreach to underserved communities.

PROFILE: The Hearst Foundations, technically comprised of two separate foundations that are managed together, were established by William Randolph Hearst in 1945 and 1948. Their missions were (and still remain) the same, as are the granting stipulations; whether an organization resides east or west of the Mississippi River is the only difference. The foundations seek to “ensure that people of all backgrounds have the opportunity to build healthy, productive, and inspiring lives.”  

These foundations staunchly support culture, including the arts, specifically as it relates to developing artists and exposing underserved communities to both artistic output and artistic training. Support of music is well-established among the foundations' cultural giving.

The Hearst Foundations also seek visual arts organizations that differentiate themselves from their peers—not just in an approach to programming, but also in terms of results. The foundations also place importance on results by expecting “evidence of sustainability” for programs beyond their own support of them.

Past Hearst Foundations grantees can be found in the grant recipient database and include: $1,500,000 to Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, FL "toward the creation of a new, state-of-the-art Education Center, as part of a comprehensive campaign to strategically expand and reconfigure" the museum; $1,000,000 to the Whitney Museum in New York, NY "toward the Campaign for the Whitney of the Future, and to name The Hearst Artspace;" $500,000 to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC to support its construction; $250,000 to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco, CA in support of Where Art Can Take You: The Campaign to Transform SFMOMA; $250,000 to the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York, NY for its "new, interactive Process: Lab space for experiential design;" $200,000 to the Georgia O'Keefe Museum in Santa Fe, NM to establish the William Randolph Hearst Series of Art Exhibitions; $100,000 to Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, PA "to support its RACE: Are We So Different? exhibition and related arts education and public programming, including the creation of a Community Voices Gallery;" $100,000 to the Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC for exhibitions and programs that serve Latino residents; $100,000 to the Mid-America Arts Alliance in Kansas City, MO "to increase the impact and breadth of ExhibitsUSA programming;" $100,000 to the Anchorage Museum Association in Anchorage, AK for educational programming; $100,000 to the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild in Pittsburgh, PA for its Youth & Arts Apprenticeship Training Program; $100,000 to the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Springs, CA for its new Architecture and Design Center; $75,000 to the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, NV for its Youth Art Initiative "to engage local teens and young adults in community and studio based art experiences;" $50,000 to the Perez Miami Art Museum in Miami, FL "to expand arts programming at the museum’s newly-opened, state-of-the-art facility;" $50,000 to the Nicolaysen Art Museum in Casper, WY for "general operating support to help plan exhibits, marketing and programming;"

The Hearst Foundations have an open online application process. However, they indicate that 80 percent of their funding supports previous recipients. But for grant seekers whose proposals are accepted, long-term funding is likely.  

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