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Nonprofits in the Performing Arts

This guide surfaces key concepts and deep-dive resources for people interested in entering the nonprofit performing arts sector.

Core Terminology for Getting Started

Nonprofit: a formally or informally structured organization that does not function for the purposes of profit. In other words, the organization does not distribute any amount of its income to members, directors, or officers. Learn more from Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute's legal dictionary and encyclopedia WEX.

501(c)(3): the rule in the US Internal Revenue Code that allows federal tax exemption status for certain types of nonprofit organizations. Learn more at Foundation Group's What is a 501(c)(3) information page.

Fiscal Sponsor: a larger tax exempt organization that allows individuals or smaller start-up organizations to join their legal structure. This means the larger organization, or the fiscal sponsor, takes on much of the administrative responsibilities related to managing grant and donated funds for an individual or nonprofit start-up, who also benefits from the fiscal sponsor's tax exempt status. Learn more at American Nonprofit Academy's Nonprofit Toolbox and Glossary.

Nonprofit Board or Board of Directors: A group of dedicated individuals who oversee the governance and financial governance of a nonprofit organization. Typically, but not always, board members are unpaid volunteers. Learn more at the National Council of Nonprofits' Board Roles and Responsibilities.

Executive Director: The executive director is broadly responsible for the day-to-day operations of a nonprofit organization. This often includes human resource management, program development or management, marketing, and fundraising. Learn more at Indeed Career Guide What is a nonprofit executive director.

Artistic Director: The artistic director plans and implements a short and long-term vision for the organization, they select and hire performers, design season programming, and may participate in the production or performance. Learn more at Berklee Career Communities or at Careers.Broadway's Artistic Director page.


Resources for Self-Directed Learning, the Basics

#ArtsManaged is a series produced by the Arts Management Program at American University. The following 8 minute 25 second video provides a rapid overview of what a nonprofits arts organization is.

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