In the arts world it is a challenge for nonprofit arts organizations to operate "in the black." Making access to the arts available often requires public subsidy. Recognizing this need, and wanting to insure that Utah's arts organizations have a stable, reliable funding base for success and survival, the Utah Arts Council created the Utah Arts Endowment Fund (UAEF) in 1990. The governor and the legislature unanimously endorsed and funded $2.3 million for its operation, and the National Endowment for the Arts awarded a $750,000 Challenge 111 Grant in support of the program. By setting up individual endowment accounts, monies are permanently invested and earn interest to be used for programming and operation of arts organizations.
The only requirements for participation were nonprofit status and cash match. Dollar eligibility was calculated from three-year income averages for the 166 eligible arts organizations. Those with averages of $25,000 or less qualified for the program minimum of $2,500. Those with averages above $25,000 qualified for 10.3 percent of their income average.
At the end of the three-year cash match period, 97 organizations met the deadline and now have active endowment accounts. These accounts are just a beginning. It is anticipated organizations will continue to make deposits for years to come.
This program is unique in its simplicity. The state's total $3.05 million investment is never at risk and will work continuously on behalf of the arts. If and when an organization withdraws from UAEF, state dollars in the organization's endowment account remain with the Utah Arts Council.
Three important measures measure UAEF success: the number of arts organizations that participated in the program, the percentage of UAEF dollars matched by program participants, and the success of fundraising efforts associated with the program. Of the 166 arts organizations ultimately deemed eligible to participate in UAEF, 97 (58 percent) successfully raised their cash match and matched 86.5 percent of available UAEF dollars. Several of Utah's major arts organizations joined together to create a nonprofit organization, Utah Arts Endowment, Inc., which worked to raise cash match for UAEF participants and ultimately raised $1.6 million, assisting 61 organizations in meeting their match.