Improving Atlanta’s Arts Grantmaking
Bloomberg Associates worked with the City of Atlanta to design a more efficient and accessible process for providing city funding to artists and cultural institutions.
Thanks to Bloomberg for their assistance with streamlining the Municipal Support for the Arts final report system. The new final report system is easy to complete for our grant recipients and doesn’t require hours to fill out.
Camille Russell Love, Executive Director, Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs
The City of Atlanta’s arts grant program, Contracts for Arts Services, provides nearly $2 million each year to Atlanta’s artists and small nonprofit organizations for public arts programming, and its process was long acknowledged to be overly burdensome for its grantees. The City’s Office of Cultural Affairs (OCA) identified two areas of needed improvement:
1) the City’s lengthy procurement process took an average of ten months for grantees to receive their awarded funds, making it harder for them to carry out their funded programs, and
2) OCA’s grant reporting process required for compliance purposes was unnecessarily labor-intensive for grantees and did not result in the most useful data for OCA’s impact analysis efforts.
To address the first problem, OCA engaged Bloomberg Associates to identify best practices in procurement and help design a new grantmaking process. Now renamed Municipal Support for the Arts, the new program includes fewer bureaucratic hurdles and a streamlined process that will reduce the ten-month procurement process to four months while continuing to provide rigorous and equitable oversight of taxpayer funds. To address the second challenge, OCA asked Bloomberg Associates to streamline the program’s final report, the mechanism by which the City collects information on the funded arts activities for compliance purposes as well as impact evaluation. With a focus on quantitative data and fewer lengthy narrative questions, the new report form enhances the usability of the reported data for OCA’s ongoing analysis of the impact of City-funded arts programs, where they take place, and who they serve. The new user-friendly format is also faster to complete for most grantees, allowing them to devote more time to providing valuable arts programming to city residents and visitors.
The new final report was first issued in summer 2021 and legislation for the new Municipal Support for the Arts grant program was voted in by the City Council in November 2021, formally recognizing cultural grantmaking as a different form of City service provision from typical fee-for-service procurements. By improving its arts grantmaking process, the City of Atlanta created a more efficient and accessible mechanism for supporting the local creative sector, which is critical to Atlanta’s economy and vibrancy. Streamlined access to funding will reduce challenges for organizations that need City funding to engage artists and purchase supplies for cultural programs. The new Municipal Support for the Arts process reduced the overall payment time from ten months to four, nearly all grantees said the streamlined final report was easy to complete, and 60% said it was faster to complete than in prior years.
Top photo: Atlanta Contemporary