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Creative Partners: How Intermediaries Support Artistic & Cultural Vibrancy

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During 2020-2021, we collaborated with Open Mind Consulting to undertake a study commissioned by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation’s Performing Arts Program to help the Foundation better understand what has been accomplished and who benefits from the funds and services provided by intermediary partners of the Program and how these partners have adapted to external, contextual shifts, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

Intermediary partners are organizations that receive funding from the Hewlett Foundation which in turn is directly distributed to artists and community groups. We began the work of this evaluation by analyzing the 2,775 grants made and services provided by the Program’s intermediary partners during the five-year period of 2015–19. Subsequently, focus groups were conducted with representatives from each intermediary partner, along with individual interviews with Bay Area artists, art educators, and art sector leaders. Then, building on the perspectives of both intermediary organizations and artists themselves, we identified areas of alignment with the Performing Arts Program’s strategic framework.

As the evaluation was about to launch in March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic began to cause unprecedented disruption to the performing arts sector. Theatres, clubs, concert halls, and venues of all kinds had to cease their operations due to public health requirements. Figuring out how to adapt to, respond to, and indeed survive the pandemic was top of mind for every artist, arts educator, or arts administrator we spoke with during focus groups or interviews. This evaluation—and the perspectives it synthesizes—are inherently tied to how that experience has shaped the sector.

For more information on this project, visit the Hewlett Foundation’s website or click the View Report button.