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Wallace Excellence Awards

Through the Wallace Excellence Awards, 54 arts organizations received funding to develop and test ways to expand, diversify, and more deeply engage their audiences.

What we did

​​​​​​​The arts generate a range of benefits for people and society. They include everything from bringing individuals pleasure and expanding their horizons to helping communities build stronger social bonds. Throughout the U.S., however, arts organizations face a changing and challenging landscape.

The Wallace Excellence Awards initiative was a multi-year effort, concluded in 2014, that sought to respond to this. It supported audience-building projects at 54 visual and performing arts organizations in six cities around the country. They tested a variety of ways to expand, diversify, and more deeply engage their audiences.

What we learned

Market research expert Bob Harlow produced case studies of the work of 10 of the 54 arts organizations. He found a kaleidoscope of projects. They ranged from staging child-friendly versions of operas (to try to cultivate a new generation of opera lovers) to working with community groups (to find ways to welcome all members of a changing, diverse neighborhood to a local arts school). Harlow found cross-cutting themes in the work. A key one: the need for arts organization to pinpoint the barriers keeping potential audience members away.

Our Grantee Partners

Alonzo King LINES Ballet

Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

Arden Theatre Company

Beverly Arts Center

Black Ensemble Theater

Boston Foundation

Boston Lyric Opera

Boston Symphony Orchestra

Center for Asian American Media

The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia

Chicago Community Trust

Chicago Sinfonietta

The Clay Studio

The Contemporary Jewish Museum

Corporation of the Fine Arts Museums

Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame

Fleisher Art Memorial

From the Top

Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance

Huntington Theatre Company

Hyde Park Art Center

The Institute of Contemporary Art

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Macphail Center for Music

Merit School of Music

Minneapolis Institute of Art

Minnesota Opera

Minnesota Orchestra

Mixed Blood Theatre Company

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Music of the Baroque

Northern Clay Center

ODC/Oberlin Dance Collective

On the Boards

One Reel

Opera Company of Philadelphia

Ordway Center for the Performing Arts

Pacific Northwest Ballet

The Philadelphia Foundation

Philadelphia Live Arts Festival & Philly Fringe / Philadelphia Fringe Festival

The Philadelphia Orchestra Association

Philadelphia Theatre Company

The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra Society

San Francisco Foundation

San Francisco Girls Chorus

San Francisco Jazz Organization (SFJAZZ)

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

San Francisco Opera / San Francisco Opera Association

Seattle Art Museum

Seattle Opera

Seattle Repertory Theatre

Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras


Steppenwolf Theatre Company

Victory Gardens Theater

The Wilma Theater

World Arts West

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts


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