The following is a conversation between Laura Aden, President and CEO of the Howard Gilman Foundation, and Denver Frederick, the Host of The Business of Giving.

Denver: Howard Gilman believed in the power of the arts to transform lives. In honoring his legacy, the foundation named for him provides funding and support to New York City-based performing arts organizations that are reflective of the city’s vibrant cultural community. And here to tell us more about their work and the impact that the past two years have had on the performing arts in New York City is Laura Aden, the president and CEO of the Howard Gilman Foundation.

Welcome to The Business of Giving, Laura.

Laura Aden, President and CEO of the Howard Gilman Foundation

Laura: Thank you, Denver. Pleasure to be here with you.

Denver: Tell us about Howard Gilman. Who was he? 

Laura: Howard Gilman was a great arts philanthropist and a great humanitarian. And in his lifetime, he had a lot of interests, the performing arts being a major one of those, but he was also a great philanthropist around animal conservation, dedicating his estate in Florida to preserving endangered species– 7,500 acres of land that had all kinds of animals there. It’s a major, major breeding ground, White Oak, very well known in conservancy for animals. 

And he also gave a lot of money for AIDS research and social services in New York. He was a New York City guy, and he was very involved in a lot of different areas in New York City. So that was Howard… he was known for his extraordinary generosity, his humility, and just being a very kind and thoughtful man.

Denver: Yeah. And I guess the family made their money, if you will, from the paper company, Gilman Paper Company?

Laura: They did… they made their original fortune from paper. His great-grandfather, Isaac Gilman, came over from Russia in the late 1800s. And like so many immigrant stories, he turned this little business he had with used newspapers into a really thriving paper company.

And then eventually, it became the largest paper company, privately-held paper company in the country. And the business expanded into sawmills in Georgia and Florida, which became Gilman Building Products. And that’s the source of the revenue that the foundation has. In fact, that’s all part of the reboot story. I can tell you when we get to that.

Denver: Well, let’s get to the reboot story because you were brought on board Laura in 2014. And you were interested with rebooting the foundation, and that just blows my mind. That is a daunting task. Tell us a little bit about how you approached it, how you prioritized. What did you do? 

Laura: It was a great opportunity obviously for me, and I was thrilled. I’ve had actually a lot of experience with startups through my career, and this was a particularly interesting and challenging one. I mean, the other startups I’ve been involved with were nonprofit organizations. So I came into this startup with a slightly different, certainly financial picture, where I didn’t have to raise any money to get the organization going.

But after Howard Gillman died, the foundation was in a difficult and tricky situation for a little while. And so there really hadn’t been any permanent staff since 2001/2002. So…  when I was hired, there had been no staff for 12 years, and the foundation wasn’t really operating like a foundation in any way, shape, or form. There was no staff, there were no guidelines, there was nothing.

So, there were a lot of major decisions that the board had to make. There was a sort of total reshuffling of the board in 2006, and that board really took control of trying to solve some of the issues of the prior years and decide what was going to happen to the future of the foundation. They wanted the foundation to be able to continue in Howard’s name and to continue his legacy, but there were some financial issues that needed to be resolved.

So they made the decision to sell White Oak, which was Howard Gilman’s estate in Florida. Very well known in the dance community as the home of White Oak Project, Mark Morris and Mikhail Baryshnikov’s company. And many, many, many dance companies spend a lot of time down there at White Oak. So they made the decision to sell White Oak so that there would be some cash to start the foundation up again.

And then they decided that they would focus… all of the areas that Howard had an interest in, and there were a lot of areas that he funded personally with his own wealth. But they really decided to focus on the performing arts in New York City because that was clearly a great passion of his, especially dance, but also theater and music.

So knowing that they were going to focus just on the performing arts and just in New York City, then they went to look for someone to lead the organization through basically a total reboot, as we call it. So I was thrilled to be entrusted with that because there was nothing, there was no staff, there was no website, there were no guidelines.

There was no mission statement, there was no application. There was nothing, but there was an office that the trustees had rented, leased, but that was it. No financial systems, there was nothing. So it was really exciting and an unbelievable opportunity to be able to start a foundation basically from scratch.

Because although there was some giving history for sure during the time that Howard was running the foundation, it was nothing like what we were envisioning in terms of actually professionalizing the way in which grants were applied for and the way in which we worked with arts organizations throughout the city.

So it was a great opportunity that I’m still, eight years later, so thrilled that the board entrusted me to do that because they’ve been amazing and incredibly supportive of all the things that we’ve wanted to be able to accomplish and to do from the very beginning, from 2014, but especially, the last two years also.

So it’s been a really extraordinary opportunity, and I love getting up every morning and facing whatever it is that we’re dealing with that day because it’s a magnificent opportunity in the city that I grew up in, and I love to be able to support the arts the way that we do.

Denver: You sound very happy with what you do every single day. That is wonderful to hear. Is there a lasting lesson to take away from that experience? Because again, I think a lot of people step into completely unstructured situations where you don’t even know where to begin, and on the other hand, there’s so many places you can begin. What would be that takeaway lesson in terms of stepping into that kind of circumstance and saying: “This is the way, this is the mindset, this is the strategy to prioritization you need to bring through that kind of task.”? 

Laura: There were a lot of things that I had to do right away. I had to develop a website pretty quickly… there was no website. I had to hire staff. I had to start to think about what our mission statement would be to do some writing around our priorities and criteria.

But I think what made me feel excited and well-suited for this great opportunity was that I had been on both sides of the philanthropic desk as it were, I mean, half my career, I’m working for nonprofits, mostly theater and raising money. And then I had spent the prior 13 years before taking this job, working at the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation in New Jersey as the Arts Program Director.

So I really feel like I knew a little bit at least about both sides of the equation. And certainly I think like everybody, when you get to this place in your career where you’re the president and CEO, you’re like, okay, what lessons have I learned along the way? Who have I worked for that really inspired me, and what was it that they did that made me feel that way? And who did I work for that I didn’t feel that way?

Denver: Yeah. That, too.

Laura: And what did they do to make me feel that way? And so as in any job I’ve ever had, any job anybody ever has, you do some self-reflection like: How can I really accomplish what we want to accomplish? With the right staff, with the right values, with the right way in which we communicate, and effectively, and empathetically, and really to always put the needs of our grantees first, to prioritize our grantees, and to listen to what it is that they’re telling us that they need, and then find a way to provide that for them. 

There were a lot of mechanical things that we had to do in terms of setting up systems, all sorts of systems and procedures, but there was also the development of really what we call our core values, really: How we do our work, how we see ourselves in the world of philanthropy, and how we see ourselves in the world of the performing arts community in New York City.

Denver: Yeah. That’s really interesting because sometimes we are so anxious to do what needs to be done that day, and you’re really thinking about what the organization is going to look like down the road, which again, then gets you thinking about systems and values and communication and the rest of it.

Let me pick up on one thing you said there, and it was one of the tasks that you had to deal with, and that was the grant application process. And you just said, “What’s best for the applicants.” Talk a little bit about that and some of those decisions you made along the way.

Laura: Great. Thank you. Well, that was fun. When I first was hired in July of 2014, I spent a tremendous amount of time just meeting with people and getting, I guess, the lay of the land of the performing arts in New York City. I had worked in New Jersey for a long time. I was certainly familiar with lots of arts organizations in the city, but I had never worked with them in a professional capacity.

So I spent a lot of time sort of on a listening tour meeting with people who knew a lot of people, who recommended other people that I’d speak to. And one group of people that I really wanted to speak to were potential applicants. And I was fortunate that we were able to set up meetings with some of the major service organizations in the city.

So I met, along with my first employee, the first person I hired, Emily Sproch, who’s still with me. She and I met with the board of ART/New York, which is the Alliance of Resident Theatres, this sort of service organization for all of the nonprofit theaters in New York. And we met with the board… which that board is made up of all practitioners, all people who run theater companies, either artistic directors or managing directors.

And we asked them about applications. And what did you hate about applications?  And what questions are you never asked that you wish you were asked in an application? And we ran through what we were considering as our criteria. What do you think of these criteria? We had a budget minimum. We had requirements that there will be a wonderful staff person, paid staff person. We had several different criteria that we were able to talk to them about.

And we got a lot of really great transparent conversations about things that they thought we shouldn’t do and things that they thought we should do. And we took it all to heart when we were developing the grant application. I knew that we wanted to keep it relatively short. Having written grants myself for many years, I wanted to only ask questions that we really needed the answer to.

And I knew that we were also going to the way that we were going to structure the way that we did our grantmaking was we would get an application from an organization, but then we would schedule a site visit with them. We would go and meet them where they were, go to their office, and spend time with them there and get to know them on their own turf.

And so we knew that we didn’t need to have everything in the world in this application because we were going to make sure that we sat down one-on-one or with several key staff, and get to know the organization better that way. And that’s the way we still do things even through the pandemic. We’re still continuing to do our site visits, but on Zoom. Same thing.

Denver: Well, you got a reputation for being very hands-on, that I do know. You’re there for the performances. You’re there for the rehearsals when there are performances and rehearsals. So you really do go and see their work and try to get it away from a piece of paper and actually go and see it in the flesh and say, This is what they’re doing.

Laura: This is one of the great joys of this job. I mean, there are a lot of joys of this job, but one of the great joys of this job is being able to see the most extraordinary work. On any night, you have dozens and dozens of options for places that you could go see extraordinary theater dance, concerts. So my staff, which is now eight people, we spend quite a bit of time going to performances, but we also spend quite a bit of time just meeting with our grantees, certainly at least once a year when their applications are due, although we do a lot of multi-year grants as well.

But we enjoy that opportunity to catch up with them and see what’s going on and hear from them because that’s how we can better inform our own grantmaking decisions and developing policies or new grantmaking programs we might want to do. They’re all based on what we’re hearing from our grantees.

Denver: Yeah. And you continue that ethos in an effort to do whatever you can to break down the power dynamics between the funder and the grantee. Tell us a little bit about that and maybe what foundations at large could do better to break down that power dynamic. 

Laura: That’s the never-ending problem, I’d say conundrum, because yes, we can do everything in our power. I think I have, my staff is wonderful, they’re extraordinary, I love them. And I think they’re very well-regarded in the field, but no matter what you do, that dynamic is always going to be there because we are the ones who are making the decisions about who gets a grant and how large that grant is.

But there are a lot of things I think you can try and do to at least ease the relationship into one that is trusting; there’s what I guess is now called trust-based philanthropy, but it’s sort of what we always did when I was at Dodge Foundation under David Grant’s leadership there. That was our mantra, was respect for the grantees.

That was the most important thing, was having respect for them, their work, acknowledging that they’re the ones who know what they need; they’re the ones who know what they want to do, and that the funder has no place in dictating what they’re doing. You need to just establish that relationship with the grantee and have that trust and have that transparency and have them know that they can tell you when things went well and when things didn’t go well.

And then that’s not going to impact our relationship. We’re in for the long haul. With most of our grantees, we have been funding them for years and years. And  we primarily provide general operating support, the most flexible kind of support that you can provide to nonprofit organizations.

So in doing that and spending time with them, we’re hoping to establish that kind of relationship where they feel like the power dynamic maybe isn’t as severe. We’re not as formal, maybe, as some other organizations might be… some other foundations might be a little bit more formal.

We’re pretty informal in the way that we behave or try to behave. And the other important thing I think, Denver too,  is that my staff and I feel really strongly about this: when I was hiring my staff, I was not looking for anybody who had ever worked in philanthropy before. I was looking for people who were working artists, people who had worked as artists, or had worked at nonprofit arts organizations.

Those are the people I think make the best program officers because they’ve been there. They’ve been in their shoes. They’ve been a working musician. They’ve run an arts organization. And I think something that might set the staff slightly apart is that they didn’t have long careers in philanthropy, that they were coming from the field that they came from.

“And we just threw away all the rules basically… Well, I think one of the first things we did too is we sent an email to everybody just to say we know how you’re feeling; we can imagine what’s going on. And we want you to know that we’re here, that we’re not going anywhere, that we’re going to be listening to you. We’re going to be finding out what you need…”

Denver: Yeah. They understand the system of the field and how it works and what the dynamics are. Tell us a little bit about what the foundation did during the pandemic. You certainly stepped up significantly. Tell us about that and how you pivoted to address this crisis that we’ve all been living through over the course of the last two years, and continue to do so.

Laura: I know it’s amazing, isn’t it? It’s over two years now. And we like to think that it’s over, but it’s not over.

Denver: No, I looked at the Coronavirus Tracker from The New York Times today, the numbers are going back up again. 

Laura: I know, but at least the hospitalizations are not going back up again. So that’s good. Although you see lately, there’s been a lot of COVID cases on Broadway again. Fortunately, I haven’t seen quite as much of that in amongst our grantees, but I think the foundation really showed an ability to be flexible and nimble during that time. And I’m extremely proud of that.

And I give a tremendous amount of credit, not only to my staff, but to the board who were right from the beginning, they were like,” Okay, what do we need to do?” And it was really interesting how some of that evolved. One of the first things that happened was, that Wednesday, whatever it was, March 10th or…

Denver: 12th or 13th, I think, yeah.

Laura: You know, we all left the office and I left with a stack of grant checks because we had just had a board meeting thinking, oh, we’d be back in a couple of weeks. But the very next day, we were having a conference call with the staff, and we were like, This isn’t going to work. Like we’re never going to be able to deal with everything we have to deal with on a conference call, which is the way… remember most people handled multiple conversations with multiple people was on a conference call.

So one of my staff said that they had heard about another foundation that had purchased Zoom licenses for all of their grantees, and they had like 30 grantees, which was amazing. And we said, “Why don’t we do that?” Because if we’re having trouble figuring out how we’re going to communicate with each other and how we’re going to get our work done, isolated and separated like this, all of our grantees must be going through the exact same problem.

Denver: Did you even know what a Zoom license was, Laura, two years ago?

Laura: I didn’t know, but fortunately…

Denver: Yeah, team members did.

Laura: She knew, Conrhonda knew. So, yeah, so she negotiated this great deal with Zoom. And by Friday, we had offered all of our grantees Zoom licenses. So we purchased 175 Zoom licenses. Yeah. So that was something very quick and easy to do, but then we also were… we had just finished one round of grantmaking.

We were about to start our second cycle of grantmaking, which is the largest. And we just threw away all the rules basically and just told our grantees… Well, I think one of the first things we did too is we sent an email to everybody just to say:  We know how you’re feeling; we can imagine what’s going on.And we want you to know that we’re here, that we’re not going anywhere, that we’re going to be listening to you. We’re going to be finding out what you need, and we’re going to change up how we’re doing reporting and applications and all those things, and just stay tuned, and we just wanted to reach out to you and let you know that we’re here.

And I felt really good about that email going out, and my board immediately said, Let’s look at what we can do immediately for artists and arts organizations. We don’t fund individual artists as a rule, but one of the first things we did was we made about a million dollars in grants to organizations that we’re regranting…

Denver: Yeah. Intermediary organizations.

Laura: … to artists, working artists, and arts workers. So we did that. We got involved with the New York Community Trust, which was doing a large fundraising effort for the cultural community in the city that raised ultimately about $27 million. We were part of that collaborative funder pool, and we served on that panel deciding on those grants… so that kept us very busy.

So it was a really busy time trying to figure out what we could do. And so we knew that the most important thing was to get the money out the door. These Cycle 2 grants, normally they wouldn’t get paid until end of June or July… when we got all those payments out by the end of April.

So everybody, they didn’t really have to apply again. They just had to send us either an email telling us what was going on, or we got on the phone with them and they told us what was going on. And we just renewed everybody’s grants at the same level.

And organizations that apply at the end of the year, in our third cycle, they also got all their money right up front. We just got all that money out the door. And then I went to the board and asked them to consider increasing our payout. Your listeners know that foundations are required to give 5% of their assets in grants and other things, including administrative expenses. 

And a lot of foundations do only give 5%. We were already giving around 6%, but I asked them to increase our payout to seven and a half percent, which they agreed to do. And this was at a time when the stock market was plummeting. So for them to step up, that was pretty extraordinary.

So it increased our grants budget from $21 million to about $32 million. So now we had some money where we could really hope to make a difference. And so what we did was, as I said, we got all this money out the door by the end of April, beginning of May, the regular grants, regular general operating support grants.

And then in August, we sent out another round of general operating support grants that they did not have to apply for. They didn’t actually even know that they were coming. And my grants manager, she was sending these out all day on August 4th, 2020. We sent out $13 million, and it was like the greatest day of my life to know that we were getting this money out the door to our grantees in a most unexpected way for them.

And it really, really, really was one of the great, I think, accomplishments I feel for me personally in my career, was to be able to send that money out to everybody. And then we spent the rest of the year, in 2020, finding out what else our grantees needed besides cash. We knew they needed cash, but what else do they need?

And so at the end of the year, we did another round of grantmaking around $5 million more for equipment needs, a lot of technical equipment, recording equipment, and things to help them with their streaming activity and residencies. We gave money to a lot of our dance companies to have these bubble residencies, where they could all test, all be negative, all go away together and work. 

For a dancer, our dance companies were really suffering, you know, not being able to… they need to dance, they need to get up, and they need to be working.

Denver: Got to move.

Laura: You got to move. So I think all of 2020, and then certainly into 2021 as well, we’re trying to be responsive to what our grantees were telling us that they needed, and what we were seeing that they needed, and trying to find every way that we could to help them. And another favorite story of mine, if I can tell you this, was there were some extraordinary federal programs to help arts organizations. 

The largest influx of money for the arts from the federal government, probably ever, certainly rivaling WPA, but it was amazing. So between the payroll protection, loans, which became grants for everybody, and then the Shuttered Venue grants, those were the game changers.

Those were, you know, Senator Schumer, he really helped push that through. And it was an extraordinary grant program to allow organizations to recoup losses from having been closed. And it was an extraordinary opportunity; there was a lot of money available, and the problem was that the application process was just impossible. No surprise.

The Small Business Administration, bless them, they do fine work, but they don’t know anything really about nonprofits. They generally work with small companies, for-profit companies, and they had to develop this huge billion-dollar program, but they did.

But the application itself was just impossible. It was so convoluted. It was so difficult. You needed to have, really, a business manager, a finance person on your staff to be able to navigate those waters, and even then, it didn’t mean that you could do it.

So most of our grantees applied. Ultimately, almost everybody who applied got money, but a lot of our grantees were very discouraged by the whole process and just could not even get started on that application. It was just so onerous.

And fortunately, I had been attending some webinars that were being run by these extraordinary accountants at WithumSmith+ Brown about the SVOG, that Shuttered Venue, and these two women were extraordinary. And so one morning, I got an email blast from Americans for the Arts that said there was all this money left in SVOG and that so many people were so discouraged and hadn’t applied, but that there was still money left.

So I contacted my board, this was a Friday morning, I’ll always remember this, about 10 o’clock and I wrote to them. There’s four of them so it’s not that, you know…

Denver: Yeah, not that enormous.

Laura: But I don’t always hear back from them right away. And I said, I would love to engage these women, these accountants, to work with our grantees who have not applied for the SVOG or need help applying for the SVOG on a retainer. I’d like to put them on a retainer. Let me know if you think this is a good idea and if you’re okay with this.

And within an hour, all four of them had written back and said, yes. And so then I contacted them, Laura and Karen and WithumSmith+ Brown, and they were like, “Great. We would love to work with your grantees.” And then my staff and I got on a Zoom call, we talked about it.

And by three o’clock that afternoon, we had sent out an email to about 110 grantees of ours offering the service, that they could contact these accountants, these CPAs, if they need help with the SVOG. And it was all done within a few hours.

Denver: Nice story.

Laura: And it was a great story. And the best part of the story is ultimately, I believe we wound up paying them about $30,000, something like that, for their amazing service. They were beyond what you could even have hoped for.

And to date, as much as we were able to gather from our grantees, that $30,000 brought back about $1.8 million to our grantees. So we were really thrilled with that opportunity. So that was one of those sorts of things where we knew that people needed to apply for this grant, but they just couldn’t do it. It was just impossible, right?

“This whole switch to working at home and how difficult that was for some people who didn’t have childcare, who had aging, ailing, sick parents, grandparents. There was so much going on that I think flexibility and compassion and empathy were really important during that time. And I think that the arts will play a huge role in helping people start to feel like themselves again because the joy of that experience is pretty incomparable.”

Denver: Yeah. No, that is a very nice return on investment. And I think, in terms of the role the foundation plays, sometimes there’s no more important role to your grantees than helping remove friction, because friction is a thing that gets in their way, and we never sometimes talk about. But when you can remove it and the opportunities that it opens up, that is just that wonderful illustration of how you were able to do that.

Let me ask you about wellbeing because I’ve talked to a lot of people, Laura, and they’ve always said that arts have really helped their sense of wellbeing. And that sense of wellbeing has suffered a little bit in the absence of the arts, not going to those live performances that you alluded to before. How was your thinking about that, and what’s the impact on you maybe of not having been able to attend all those performances that you customarily did at least several times a week?

Laura: Right. I think the pandemic, the situation that we’ve been in for the last two years was so isolating for so many people, especially in 2020, I think it was a very difficult year.

And so all those opportunities to not be able to gather, whether it be at weddings… like my niece had to postpone her wedding… family gatherings, going to the theater, going to a dance performance, being with other people, those were not opportunities that anybody had for a very long time.

Fortunately, there were some opportunities outdoors in the summertime, but not much in 2020. It really wasn’t until 2021. So I think it was incredibly difficult emotionally, psychologically for everybody. In New York City, it was so traumatic being in New York City in the beginning of the pandemic. 

So I just think that not having those outlets, that opportunity to be with others, to have shared experiences, and to be in the shared experience of a live performance is pretty incomparable, whether it’s a concert or a play or a dance performance. So I think that’s a big issue that we have to be well aware of.

And I think that people have tried to help their staff as best as they can with some of these issues.  I know that I certainly have seen others, and we have as well, tried to really tend to the needs of the staff and be aware of the strains that they were having and all of our grantees.

This whole switch to working at home and how difficult that was for some people who didn’t have childcare, who had aging, ailing, sick parents, grandparents. There was so much going on that I think flexibility and compassion and empathy were really important during that time. And I think that the arts will play a huge role in helping people start to feel like themselves again because the joy of that experience is pretty incomparable.

But it’s been a very, very difficult time financially, psychologically for everybody, not just people who work in the arts and not just people who enjoy going to performances, but really everybody in our city I think, it’s really been devastating, and around the country and around the world.

“So there’s a lot on the horizon and we want to be aware of what it is that is most needed in the performing arts community in New York City, and to be able to respond in any way that we can with grants, with technical assistance, with whatever we can provide because the performing arts community in New York City is why we exist. We exist to serve them, and we want to try and do that in the very best way every day that we can.”

Denver: Yeah, that covers it. Finally, Laura, how do you believe that the events of the past two years will impact the performing arts landscape in New York City? And how do you think your foundation will continue to evolve in terms of trying to address that change?

Laura: I think that one thing that didn’t happen over the last two years, which I’m thrilled about, and I think that those federal programs have a lot to do with it, was we saw all of our grantees, with maybe one or two exceptions out of 240 grantees, survive. So they survived. There were a lot of sacrifices made by their staff, but they survived. And I do think that the PPP and the SVOG grants made a tremendous difference and gave organizations and the people who work there some hope that they would be able to survive. And that’s not anything that foundations or individuals alone could have done.

But I do think that a lot of foundations did step up during the last two years. They did loosen a lot for those that did have very stringent reporting requirements and things like that. I think that a lot of foundations did do some thinking about what it was that they were requiring from their grantees and what it was that they actually really needed.

And I hope that stays that way; I hope it wasn’t just a temporary, “we’ll ease up on some of these reporting requirements.” That’s probably, you hear the biggest complaints about reporting requirements. Hopefully some of those changes will stay in place. Hopefully some of the liquidity that we see … our grantees having some cash will help them plan for the future. Quite a few of them are in a fairly good financial situation at the moment. But audiences are not returning at the kinds of rate that they were prior to the pandemic. There are a lot of individuals who aren’t giving at the same amount. It’s very difficult still to raise money, whether it’s earned revenue or contributed revenue.

Laura: So I think that it’s going to be very tricky for the next two years, I think at least, to see what happens as things hopefully get back to whatever normal is, and if organizations are able to sustain having the financial resources that they need, and the staff and artists that they need, because there was also a tremendous exodus from New York over the last two years.

We’ve lost a lot of talent, a lot of artists, a lot of technicians, a lot of designers, a lot of people who worked at arts organizations, who left to go home or somewhere else during the pandemic and haven’t come back.

So I think a lot of organizations are struggling with staffing up again and trying to pay good wages and not something the arts are necessarily known for. And I think that’s going to be very important, the way in which employees are treated and artists are paid and compensated, and people who work in organizations as well.

So there’s a lot on the horizon, and we want to be aware of what it is that is most needed in the performing arts community in New York City, and to be able to respond in any way that we can with grants, with technical assistance, with whatever we can provide because the performing arts community in New York City is why we exist. We exist to serve them, and we want to try and do that in the very best way every day that we can.

Denver: Well, stay tuned, as you say. But I think one thing that the survival rate indicates is that these are resilient organizations, so I’m pretty confident that they will remain to be resilient.

For listeners who want to learn more about the Howard Gilman Foundation, tell us a little bit about your website and maybe some of the information people can expect to find there.

Laura: Sure. Our website is, not surprisingly, And obviously, you can find information on how to apply. We realized that’s the number one reason anybody would go to our website, is to find out: How do I apply for a grant?  So, of course you get that information there.

There’s information about Howard Gilman and his legacy and his family. There’s information about the foundation itself and our values, our mission; our vision for the arts and the performing arts in New York City are on our website. We have little features on several of our grantees, and we have a listing.

We have listings of all the grants that we’ve made since 2014, all the organizations that we’ve funded. So if people are interested in seeing the kinds of organizations that we fund to see if their organization might fit into our guidelines, they can get all that information on our website. They can also call.

Denver: A pretty comprehensive work. And you can call, too.

Laura: Anytime. We love to talk to arts organizations. And we give everybody our phone numbers. We love for people to call us. We love to talk to people. All my program officers have on their signatures, they have a link to their calendars so people can just schedule times to talk with them. It’s all this part of being as open and responsive and available as possible so that we can do our jobs well.

Denver: It keeps you connected. You really know what’s going on, no question about it. Thanks, Laura, for being here today. It was such a pleasure to have you on the show.

Laura: Thank you so much. It was a pleasure to talk to you, Denver. I’ve heard such wonderful things about you. All true now.

Denver Frederick, Host of The Business of Giving serves as a Strategic Advisor and Executive Coach to NGO and Nonprofit CEOs and Board Chairs. His Book, The Business of Giving: The Non-Profit Leaders Guide to Transform Leadership, Philanthropy, and Organizational Success in a Changed World, will be released in the spring of 2022.

Listen to more The Business of Giving episodes for free here. Subscribe to our podcast channel on Spotify to get notified of new episodes. You can also follow us on TwitterInstagram, and on Facebook.

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