By Meredith Alvarez, Arts Funder Leader for SA2020 Resolutions (follow her here!)
To all those who signed up to follow my SA2020 Resolution, I have some news that you may be surprised to hear: you are a philanthropist.
When you signed up to learn more about how you can help me achieve my SA2020 Arts Funder Resolution, you effectively established this. Personal wealth is not a requirement for philanthropy, and you don’t need to have a family foundation to make a big difference. In fact, did you know that individuals make up 75 percent of giving in America? Did you also know that the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans account for only 25 percent of all charitable giving? While big donations are important, what about “small” donations? Have you ever decided not to give because you don’t think that your “small” donation will make a difference? If so, I’m asking you to reconsider. Any and every donation can have an especially strong impact in the arts.
I challenge you “think outside of the box” when it comes to ways of funding the arts. Donations are crucial to the sustainability of any arts organization, but it is not the sole means of support. Buy a ticket to a concert hall or theatre that you have never attended. Sign up for a museum membership. Purchase a piece of art from a local artist. Every dollar spent supporting the arts in San Antonio will only help to build the creative culture of this wonderful city.
For those of you who do not know me, I am an actor. I developed a passion for the stage at a very young age and have been following my dream ever since. My journey as an artist has not always been an easy one. I spent many caffeine-fueled years working a full time job during the day so that I could fulfill my passion onstage at night. And while my schedule left me a little dependant on coffee, my heart was satisfied. I was doing what I loved to do. Even if I wasn’t making a living as an artist, I was still creating art.
When I was approached by SA2020 to be Arts Funder Resolutions Leader, I was given a unique opportunity to examine my own track record as a funder. While I have always been willing to volunteer my time for the arts, I haven’t really made a financial impact to any organization. SA2020 helped me to rethink that. I can make a difference. For the remainder 2014, I have personally decided to give up one coffee each week and direct those savings as a donation to The Playhouse San Antonio, an organization rooted in the San Antonio community and committed to providing quality theatrical productions as well as artistic education. This donation may not sound like much, but sacrificing one Venti Latte each week over the course of 2014 will free up over $250. $250 can underwrite three pairs of pointe shoes for the ballet. $250 can fund a new conductor stand for the symphony. $250 can cover a partial scholarship for The Playhouse Conservatory and introduce a young San Antonio artist to the beauty of live theatre. By building up a broad base of support via small donations, we can create and sustain an effective and durable artistic culture in this city. No amount is too little. Will you help me achieve my SA2020 resolution and continue to make San Antonio a city on the rise?