What is a United Arts Fund?

United Arts Funds seek to raise money to provide ongoing operating support to local arts institutions. Over the past 65 years, more than 100 communities across the country–both large and small– have established UAFs. There are currently about 60 UAFs operating in the United States.

The UAF movement began in 1949, when civic leaders in Cincinnati, OH, and Louisville, KY, determined that a collaborative fundraising effort would be more effective than individual campaigns. Loosely based on the United Way model, UAFs seek to raise substantially more money to provide ongoing operating support to their member organizations.

Traditionally, UAFs fund unrestricted operating support to the core institutions that define their city’s cultural identity–the symphony, ballet, opera, theater, museums and more. Today, allocations are increasingly more open to the diversity of the community, requiring member organizations to reflect the differences and needs of the whole community through grant allocations. In addition, UAFs are providing extensive umbrella marketing and audience development support.

Researchers found that those art organizations supported by a UAFs had more revenue and twice the net worth of their counterparts in non-arts fund cities.