United Arts Funds in the U.S.

A United Arts Fund (UAF) is a combined or federated appeal for arts funding conducted annually to raise unrestricted money on behalf of three or more arts, culture, and/or science organizations.  While these campaigns traditionally focus on corporate, individual, and workplace giving, they also may include government support.  UAF’s lower the transaction costs for both organizations and funders.  Traditionally, distribution of the pooled funds has been for unrestricted operating support, but options for special projects and donor designated funding are increasingly being included. United Arts Funds are community-specific fundraising organizations that distribute earned funds to the arts organizations in their communities.


The UAF movement began in 1949, when civic leaders in Cincinnati, OH, and Louisville, KY, determined that community-wide campaigns, loosely based upon the United Way model, could raise substantially more money to provide ongoing operating support to their major arts institutions. Over the past 54 years, more than 100 communities across the country—both large and small—have established UAFs with more than 60 currently operating in the United States.


Largest United Arts Fund Campaigns During 2009



United Arts Fund

Campaign Revenue


Cincinnati, OH

Cincinnati Fine Arts Fund



Milwaukee, WI

United Performing Arts Fund



Louisville, KY

Greater Louisville Fund for the Arts



Atlanta, GA

Robert W. Woodruff Arts Center



Charlotte, NC

Arts & Science Council of Charlotte/Mecklenburg, Inc.



Orlando, FL

United Arts of Central Florida



New York (LC)

Lincoln Center Consolidated 
Corporate Fund



Hartford, CT

Greater Hartford Arts Council



Seattle, WA

Arts Fund



Memphis, TN

Greater Memphis Arts Council



A 2003 study by the Urban Institute for Americans for the Arts suggests that those cities with united arts funds have stronger arts organizations than those without. The study analyzed the top 25 arts organizations in 29 communities with united arts funds and 29 communities without united arts funds. Researchers found that those art organizations supported by a united arts fund had more revenue and twice the net worth of their counterparts in non-arts fund cities.


The Role of Knoxville's Arts & Heritage Industry

  • Knoxville enjoys the benefits of being home to 300 artists and more than 50 non-profit arts, culture and heritage organizations. 
  • In Knoxville artists and arts and culture organizations comprise a 30 million dollar industry that employs more than 1,000 people full time - as many as KUB or TVA.
  • More people annually visit Knoxville’s 20 plus museums and historic homes than attend all UT home football games combined. 
  • 86% of East Tennesseans believe having arts and culture events in their communities make life better.
  • A full 84% of business owners and white collar recruits around the country say they look for local arts activities for their families when considering relocation.
  • Compared to the national average of 27 percent, a full 49 percent of Tennesseans say that arts and culture are important to their lives.
  • Nationally, the nonprofit arts employ 2.7% of the American workforce – more than agriculture. 
  • The arts account for 6% of the US gross national product – more than the construction industry. 
  • As America’s favorite tourist attractions, museums ranked third behind shopping and outdoor activities, and historical places and cultural events ranked fourth, ahead of beaches and parks, sports, gambling, nightlife and amusement parks. 
  • Tennessee ranks as the 11th most visited state by US domestic travelers. 
  • Tourism income that this industry helps generate saves every Knoxville family $308 in taxes by attracting more than $500 million dollars each year. 
  • Downtown Knoxville could appropriately be called the city the arts re-built since nearly 20 historic buildings within the central business improvement district have been redeveloped and animated by arts and culture uses. 
  • No other industry cooperates with as many other sectors such as the Tourism and Sports Corporation, local hospitals, leadership development programs, social service agencies, faith-based institutions, and above all schools, to reach into and serve the Knoxville community.
  • By partnering with the Knox County School system, arts and culture organizations here deliver more than 100,000 hours of education to our children at no charge to the county, the parent, or the child.  
  • Knoxville’s children who participate in arts and culture are better educated, score higher on standardized tests, and realize an increase of 400% in their creativity ratings.  
  • Students with four years of music coursework scored on average 49 points higher on the combined verbal and math portions of the SAT.
  • Visual art students scored an average of 47 points higher in math and 31 points higher on verbal sections of the ACT.
  • In the fall of 2010, nearly 30 of Knoxville’s arts and culture organizations joined hands in the Penny4Arts program providing free admission for every child in the Knox County school system to attend special events and activities during the school year.  Penny4Arts provides Knox County kids 1,000 more free activity days in which to learn, experience, enjoy, and explore.  For details visit www.penny4arts.com.
  • Non-profit arts and culture is an important industry whose positive impact on local education, tourism, quality of life, and economic development are key to the region’s health and success.
  • The spin-off in spending from their activities benefit restaurants, parking garages, suppliers, and contracted jobs and swells both the City and County’s sales tax and property tax collections. 
  • The run of one theatre’s musical in Knoxville generated $731,000 in dining, concessions, tickets, parking, gas, childcare, and more!
  • The arts and culture industry is one of the area’s most effective and consistent economic drivers.
  • The local arts and culture industry is undercapitalized with an endowment that should be $70M, but is only $10.8M (14%) and cash reserves that should be at $8.75M but are only $620K (7%).  Standards published by the Chronicle of Philanthropy.


The purpose of the Arts & Heritage Fund is to reinforce the foundations of Knoxville’s arts and heritage industry so that it may better promote Knoxville’s broader interests and economic development goals.

Knoxvillians want to live in a vibrant community, and through the Arts & Heritage Fund, now there’s a way for them to support it.






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