International Sculpture Center

   

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From the Chairman

Tough times call for tough measures. While this may seem like a cliché steeped in common sense, it has been given new weight in the wake of the ongoing economic downturn. We are now a bit more than a year into a recession that not so long ago seemed like it might be the end of the world as we knew it. While many of us were necessarily focusing on what was happening to our jobs, our home values, and our 401(k) plans, nonprofits around the world were hit with immediate shock waves: funding dropped at just the time that many organizations faced a dramatic increase in demand for their services.
Although a light now seems to be appearing at the end of this recessionary tunnel, it will be some time before the effects wear off and nonprofit funding returns to pre-crisis levels. While the recession may well lead to a smaller number of nonprofits emerging stronger and smarter, the process of getting there has been, and will continue to be, very painful.
A recent study by the Bridgespan Group provides some staggering numbers. Of the nonprofits surveyed in May 2009, 92 percent were experiencing the effects of the economic downturn. Sixty-nine percent reported funding cuts, with 24 percent reporting cuts in excess of 20 percent (100 percent reported cuts in corporate support; 77 percent reported cuts in governmental support; 62 percent reported cuts in foundation support; and 63 percent reported cuts in individual support). Of small nonprofits, 70 percent reported worsening financial outlooks as compared to approximately 40 percent of medium and large nonprofits. Thirty-three percent of the organizations had dipped into their reserves, and 66 percent of small nonprofits have only three months’ worth or less of reserves on which to draw. Forty-one percent have laid off staff, and 43 percent have cut programs. It is also important to note that 33 percent of surveyed nonprofits reported that select funders had increased their support in response to the economic downturn. While that is good news, it certainly does not offset the negative balance of the statistics.
Nonprofit organizations are under constant pressure to evaluate how well they deliver on their promises (defined by their missions). While this process of self-evaluation is difficult in the nonprofit sector since various market forces and other typical measures of success don’t apply, it is crucial during lean economic times when organizations must define where their resources are best and most effectively spent, when they must prioritize their goals and services.
I bring these discussions of funding challenges and self-evaluation together here to ensure you that the staff and board of directors of the ISC are keenly aware of their importance. We work tirelessly to create an ISC that is a good steward of its mission and of the funds used to carry out that mission. The ISC has and will continue to suffer in this economic cycle, but we will emerge stronger and smarter. We still need your continued and expanded support, whether you’re a member, subscriber, or donor. And we pledge to use that support effectively in our programs to advance the field of sculpture while creating a supportive environment for working sculptors.

—Josh Kanter
Chairman, ISC Board of Directors


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