Ameriprise Financial: Grants for Theater

OVERVIEW: Ameriprise Financial is committed to grant making that creates “positive change” in the communities across the U.S. This includes not only meeting “basic needs” but also supporting “community vitality.”

IP TAKE: Ameriprise Financial’s philanthropic giving focuses on opportunities to support and improve U.S. communities. Performing arts, including theater, is a well-regarded aspect of this giving because of the importance the corporation places on “cultural enrichment.” 

PROFILE: Ameriprise Financial, the U.S. financial services company, steers its philanthropic giving in a manner similar to many other corporate entities: It seeks to give back where it stations itself, or as it states on its website, “where we live and work.”

First, some geographic logistics that flow right out of that sentiment: If you’re looking for a grant from Ameriprise Financial, your best bet is to be creating theater within 30 miles of Boston, Chicago, Green Bay (WI), Las Vegas, Minneapolis, New York, Phoenix, Portland (OR), or Providence (RI). If you’re not in one of those geographic zones, it doesn’t exclude you (see some recent theater grants below), but it does make it all the more critical to make sure you’re hitting the bulls-eye with Ameriprise Financial’s arts-giving mission.

As for that mission: What makes Ameriprise Financial a happy funder for arts organizations is that this is a corporation that views the arts as an integral aspect of bettering a community.

Ameriprise Financial has two principle areas of focus for that community betterment: Meeting Basic Needs and Supporting Community Vitality. It elucidates the meaning and importance of Community Vitality by stating:

We believe communities should be strong, healthy and resilient. We want livable places for all, where neighbors look out for one another, cultural events are well-attended and people pull together in times of crisis and joy.

Ameriprise Financial further breaks down Community Vitality into two program areas: Community Development and Cultural Enrichment. Within Cultural Enrichment—which of course is where theater resides—Ameriprise Financial priorities:

  • Arts education;
  • Access for underserved populations;
  • “Diverse artists and performances that spark topical community conversations.”

Why do we lay all of that out for you here? Because it’s essential to understand the context in which Ameriprise Financial values theater—and therefore how you can best communicate how Ameriprise Financial should value your theater program.

Recent theater grants have gone to The Shakespeare Theatre Company (Washington, DC) to subsidize its“Free for All” program, the community's only free, full-scale theatre production in D.C. and to Intiman Theatre (Seattle, WA) to create new outreach programs and connect with “nontraditional audiences” for its production of Abe Lincoln in Illinois.

Other theater programs receiving Ameriprise Financial grants in 2013-2014 are heavily slanted towards Minneapolis, including the Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis Children's Theatre Company, Stages Theatre Company, and Theater Latte Da.

An extra word about audience engagement, which is critical to the theater-making community already. Ameriprise Financial lets it be known that if you’re actively engaging its employees, you’re better-positioned to receive Ameriprise Financial Funding, stating:

Whether it’s serving on a nonprofit board, engaging friends, clients and community members in volunteering or providing skills-based support, our relationships with nonprofits go deep. For this reason, we give priority across all focus areas to applications where there is active volunteer engagement of Ameriprise advisors and employees.

So give Ameriprise Financial employees comp tickets to your next production in order to introduce yourself, and put its grant application deadlines on your calendar: mid-January and mid-May of each year.

PEOPLE:

  • Brian Pietsch, Senior Vice President, State Government Affairs and Community Relations