On the Money: New Music Funding in the United States

On the Money: New Music Funding in the United States

The Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust originated in 1968 from the estate of the late Mrs. Cary, whose grandfather, Henry Morrison Flagler, had been a founder of Standard Oil. Mrs. Cary was a lover of music and a collector of manuscripts, as well as a devotee of landscape design. Her will provided for the preservation of her various collections; the Institute of Ecosystem Studies at the Mary Flagler Cary Arboretum in Millbrook NY; and ongoing grant programs including a vitally important one for music in New York City.

Initially, the Trustees simply continued supporting music organizations that Mrs. Cary had supported, especially the National Orchestral Association. In 1980, they hired Gayle Morgan, who was then leaving the Ford Foundation‘s culture program, as a consultant to create open grantmaking programs in music. Morgan brought an adventurous spirit, and soon the Trust was making grants to new music ensembles. In 1987 Morgan went on staff as director of the music program; in 1988 she launched the twin Commission and Recording Programs. In the first five years, they were annual programs, each awarding about $200,000. In 1993 they became alternate-year programs (commissioning in odd years, recording in even), each awarding $400,000.

More recently the Cary Trust began a Live Music for Dance program, making it possible for dozens of small New York dance companies to hire musicians for their performances. Many of the grants from this program, which is administered by the American Music Center, also provide for commissions, stimulating composer-choreographer collaborations.

Now, according to Morgan, the music fund falls into roughly equal fifths: grants to music organizations like orchestras, operas, and choruses; grants to new music ensembles; the Commissioning and Recording Programs; Live Music for Dance; and support to community music schools and youth orchestras.

The Cary Trust has had a major role in the recent history of new music funding in New York, applying substantial amounts of money to areas of real need and opportunity. And Gayle Morgan is one of the most admired and informed grantmakers in the city. “The Trustees wanted to responsive to the field,” Morgan recalls of her first years as a consultant to the Trust. “Because we’re local, the money packs quite a wallop.”

From On the Money: New Music Funding in the United States
by Theodore Wiprud
© 2000 NewMusicBox

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