• Sherburne LaughlinEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Business, Arts and Humanities book series (PSBAH)


This chapter provides an overview of the governance of nonprofit arts organizations in the USA, their current and changing context, and observations on their future. Changes in the political environment threaten small but vital government support for the arts. Fresh alterations in the US tax code may affect individual philanthropy; increasing racial and ethnic diversity is putting pressure on boards to diversify membership and on foundations to make their arts giving more equitable; boards are creating succession planning mechanisms to address aging boards; and trustee contributions are becoming increasingly important to the bottom line. These are but some of the changes that are forcing arts boards to reconsider their structure, member selection, composition and other important characteristics. Their ability to adapt will ensure that these boards will succeed in whatever environment comes their way.

Topics include the US context, including key features of the arts and cultural ecosystem; philanthropy in the USA and its impact on arts and culture; background on nonprofit and arts boards and their positive and negative aspects; and the roles and responsibilities of US boards, with a focus on fundraising as well as elements of board structure. The chapter concludes with observations on the “Five Principles” outlined in earlier chapters, which allows for some comparison with European models and reflections on the future of US arts boards. As described in the opening chapters of this book, this author has reviewed extant literature and studies and conducted interviews with the chief executive officers or board liaisons of six diverse arts organizations, the results of which are used as examples throughout this chapter.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Arts ManagementAmerican UniversityWashington, DCUSA

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