Arts organizations see uptick in fundraising

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The economic downturn affected a lot of sectors, including fundraising for cultural organizations.  But local groups say there may be signs of an upswing.

The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts held its annual Director's Circle Celebration Monday night.  It honors corporate partners and individual donors.

"These are people who have supported the museum for a long time and underwrite a lot of the exhibitions and programs which are enjoyed by our entire community," said Mark Johnson, director of the museum.  "Thankfully a lot of our supporters have stuck with us for the last 2 or 3 years.

The museum's neighbor in the Blount Cultural Park - the Alabama Shakespeare Festival - is also seeing early signs of a turnaround.  It enjoyed an increase in funds raised by this year's Armchair Auction and proceeds from the 25th Anniversary Gala - signs of the strong support for the arts community in Montgomery.

"To have something like the museum of fine arts here in the community and a community of this size, and to have the philanthropists to support such as this, is really rare for a community our size," said Lara Lewis, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for the museum.

And supporters of the museum say private donations will become more important as governments continue to cut back.

"We're a city museum, but without the private sector, we couldn't survive," Johnson said.  "We couldn't survive without both parts of it, it's good balance of public and private and we need elements of both of them to keep it going."

Many organizations are turning to unique approaches to fundraising, including calling on funding from regional groups – not just local.

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