To Stabilize the Financial Position of the Leading American Orchestras': The Impact of the Ford Foundation's $80 million Program for Symphony Orchestras

by Ben Negley

Jan 1, 2016
In 1966, the Ford Foundation began its ten year, eighty million dollar program for American symphony orchestras. Through a combination of matched endowment fund contributions and unconditionally distributed expendable funds, the Ford Foundation dramatically altered the condition of the professional orchestral community in the United States by encouraging longer seasons, more concerts, higher pay for musicians, and an improved artistic product. Considered quantitatively, the Ford Foundation's Program for Symphony Orchestras -- including the matching funds raised by the orchestras themselves -- resulted in an outlay of more than $160 million for symphony orchestras. Adjusted for inflation, that amount would be worth roughly one billion dollars in 2016, or more than six times the 2016 congressional appropriation for the National Endowment for the Arts.
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