Macy's Inc.: Grants for Theater

OVERVIEW: Philanthropy at Macy’s Inc. is directed toward arts and culture, education, the environment, HIV/AIDS, women’s health, and domestic violence. Grantmaking flows through the Macy’s Foundation for programs operating on a national scale, and through the corporation for local-level programming.

IP TAKE: Macy’s makes substantial and widespread contributions in the area of arts and culture; theater is a substantial part of this grantmaking. Some of this happens through the foundation for national theater programming, but much more of it occurs through the corporation for local theater organizations.

PROFILE: Macy’s Inc., including Bloomingdales department stores, is a significant funder in the world of corporate philanthropy, both through a formal foundation (the Macy’s Foundation) and through the company itself (a program called My Macy's District Grants). Macy’s seeks to “help create stronger, healthier places for [their] customers and associates to work and live.” Both the foundation and the corporation have the same five areas of philanthropic focus: Arts and culture, education, the environment, HIV/AIDS and “women’s issues” (with primary focus on women’s health and domestic violence).

Theater grant seekers should not ignore Macy’s other funding priorities as arts initiatives that intersect with additional funding areas can only be value-added.

The My Macy’s District Grants program was established in 2010. It funded $3.5 million in grants in 2015 and $1.5 million in 2016 to organizations across its five areas of focus. The My Macy’s District Grants not only give a lot, they give flexibly. Organizations can apply via either an “Event” application or a “Program” application. Both are useful for theater programs. Macy’s defines the Event category to include showings and performances; the Program category is for “ongoing program or general operations support.”

That said, a corporation is looking to positively impact community—that is why it grants at a community level. So, theater programs that promote audience development and community engagement have an advantage. It is also safe to presume that Macy’s seeks to support arts organizations with a track record of success. Macy’s also only funds 501(c)(3) arts programs that operate in or are engaged with a community in which Macy’s and/or Bloomingdales has a presence.

Past Macy’s Inc. support of theater programs and theater-related organizations spanned $250 to $290,000 in giving. In other words, there is a range of possibility here. Past grantees of both My Macy’s District Grants and the Macy’s Foundation include Artswave, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati, and the Goodman Theatre among others.

Grant applications for My Macy’s District Grants are accepted year-round and are reviewed on a rolling basis; granting made by the Macy’s Foundation is by invitation only.


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