Hearst Foundations: Grants for Theater

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 theater. 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 theater is well-established amongst the foundations' cultural giving.

The Hearst Foundations also seek music 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: $200,000 to Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York, NY for its Lincoln Center Corporate Fund; $125,000 to Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston in Houston, TX towards “construction of a new multi-venue performance and exhibition facility;” $125,000 to A.R.T./New York “to enhance the productions and operations of nonprofit theatres in New York City;” $100,000 to Manhattan Theatre Club for “education and outreach programs for students, families and teachers;” $80,000 to the Arts Connection in New York, NY for theater residency programs; $75,000 to Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles, CA “to support education and community partnerships;” $75,000 to La Jolla Playhouse in La Jolla, CA for its Education and Outreach Program; $50,000 to Perseverance Theatre in Douglas, AK to expand its programming in Anchorage; $50,000 to the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis, TN “toward the new Centre for Performing Arts and Education;” $50,000 to Book-It Repertory Theatre in Seattle, WA “to support the Literacy Curriculum Project for elementary school teachers and students;” $50,000 to the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ for “education and artistic engagement programs for students.”

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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