Art Bridges, a grant-making organization founded by Alice Walton, is giving $40 million to 64 museums across the United States. The grants will be used to fund programs intended to attract new audiences and foster long-term sustainability among local communities.
The grants range anywhere from $56,000 to more than $2 million, to be doled out over a three-year period. The initiative, known as “Access for All,” came as a result of the pandemic-related impact on museums and the American public.
“I think that there are a lot of repercussions in terms of mental health and stability for people coming out of the pandemic. So I really see this as a crucial point in time where we all need to figure out everything we can do to create that access,” Alice Walton, one of the heirs of Walmart who started the cause, said in an interview.
Museums have experienced inconsistent post-pandemic recovery. In a recent report, nearly half of the institutions surveyed projected an increase in their bottom lines this year, while two-thirds reported a 30 percent decline in attendance compared to pre-pandemic levels. That report came as a number of museums across the country hiked their admission prices.
Grant selections for the Art Bridges awards were made based on museums’ annual operating expenses and admission costs. The funds can be used for such expenses as extend operating hours, offer free meals, and add programing.
Recipients include the Wichita Art Museum in Kansas, the San Diego Museum of Art in California, the Delaware Art Museum, Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, Howard University Gallery of Art in Washington, and the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University in New Jersey.