The Good (And Really Good) News Behind The Shubert Foundation's Recent Funding Cycle

Sometimes you stumble across a piece of news that requires no hook or pithy introduction. Such is the case today. The news speaks for itself.

The Shubert Foundation announced that it will award a record total of $24 million to 488 nonprofit performing arts organizations across the United States. That's right: 488 organizations. The 2015 grants mark the 33rd consecutive year that the foundation's giving has increased.

The last time I looked at Shubert was less than a year ago. At that time, it doled out $22.5 million to over 200 nonprofit theater companies, as well as over two dozen dance organizations. I noted at the time that the grants went to both big-city and small-town theaters, and true to form, Shubert's most recent round followed suit. Ranging from $10,000 to $325,000, the grants benefit a broad spectrum of arts organizations, large to small, that cover a wide range of locations around the country, from urban to rural.

From my vantage point, the big news here involves simple math, particularly when today's news is juxtaposed with how Shubert traditionally operates. First, they once again upped their year-over-year total giving amount, this year by $2.5 million. Secondly, by expanding the recipient base to a near record 488 organizations, the foundation adopted a "share the wealth" approach. Total grant amounts, on average, may be smaller, but more organizations are getting in on the action. This is good news for nonprofit theater troupes everywhere.

But the news gets better, guys. As followers of the foundation may know, Shubert's support is unrestricted.

"This year we are delighted to be offering support to a record number of 488 performing arts organizations in locations all around the country," said Shubert Foundation President Michael I. Sovern. "Our longstanding practice of providing help in the form of general operating support remains unchanged. We are convinced that talented artists and administrators are best able to decide how to use the funds we grant."

And here's one more nugget from the press release: "The Shubert Foundation is especially interested in providing support to professional resident theatres that develop and produce new American work."

At the expense of sounding patronizing, allow me to be mildly patronizing. If you're a nonprofit theater organization committed to original work, but for whatever reason have been sitting on the sidelines when it comes to applying for a Shubert grant, the key takeaways from today's news—an expanded grantee base, coupled with invaluable general operating support—should really, really make you reconsider.