United Arts Fund Announces Funding Collaboration with ArtsLab

The United Arts Fund (UAF), a program of COMPAS, today announced a new funding collaboration with ArtsLab, a program of Arts Midwest serving Minnesota.  UAF’s annual Workplace Giving Campaign anticipates reallocating $270,000 to ArtsLab through December 2014. 

ArtsLab, established in 1999 by multiple arts funders, will begin its next round in July 2012. The $1.4 million program offers peer learning, individualized technical assistance, and strategic, targeted support for up to 16 visionary small and midsized arts organizations in the Twin Cities and Southern and Western Minnesota.  In addition to the ArtsLab commitment, UAF will continue to make grants each year directly through a new Youth Arts Fund dedicated to strengthening community-based youth arts programs and K-12 school-based artists’ residencies throughout Minnesota.

The United Arts Fund was founded in 1954 by the Junior League of St. Paul and merged with COMPAS in 1998.  Today it provides individuals the opportunity to target their support to community-based arts activities through nearly 70 workplace giving sites across Minnesota. These include employees of private corporations, educational institutions, and governmental entities.  Their donations through payroll deduction and one-time gifts provide 96 percent of the Fund’s budget, making UAF a unique community driven arts resource.   Over the past decade, UAF has allocated over 400 grants totaling more than $3 million.

Reason for the Change

The shift in distribution of UAF funds comes in response to the evolving fundraising environment for federated and workplace giving campaigns locally and nationally.  This led to COMPAS mounting an organization-wide program evaluation involving interviews with applicants, grantees, and arts funders. Supplemental research verified, clarified, and expanded on the information collected through the interviews.   “Over and over again, we heard our constituents tell us to sharpen our mission, focus our work in the community, and leverage our resources with other partners to create greater impact,” noted COMPAS Executive Director Bob Olsen.  “ArtsLab kept coming up as a model, and constituent feedback sparked our exploration with Arts Midwest.”

As one of six current ArtsLab funders, UAF’s support will allow ArtsLab to add four more groups than anticipated, enhance the program’s web-based Knowledge Center and long-term commitment to distance learning.  It also will contribute to launch of a new ArtsLab Leadership Idea Exchange of consultants, trainers, educators and leaders in the field of arts and culture.  

David Fraher, executive director of Arts Midwest, sees a great synergy of interests and values in this funding collaboration, “Arts Midwest is delighted that United Arts Fund is supporting ArtsLab. Both programs have impressive histories of strengthening our arts and culture sector, and this new relationship allows both entities to take positive and important steps toward fulfilling our mutual goals of building the resiliency of the arts community in a time of complex and rapid change. We’re looking forward to announcing the new ArtsLab participants in July, and to offering increased opportunities to gather and support the broader arts community.”  

New Guidelines

United Arts Fund will release guidelines and application materials for the new 2013-2014 Youth Arts Fund in October 2012.  The new fund of approximately $50,000 each year will help support the mission of COMPAS by helping other arts organizations and schools to continue to engage professional artists to work with young people.  While COMPAS does not directly benefit from these UAF funds, it helps to fulfill COMPAS’ vision for a richer arts environment for young people and contributes to a stronger culture for engaging youth with professional artists.