Arts Currency: A Long-Term Funding Tool for the US Nonprofit Arts Sector


Author/Creator ORCID



Type of Work



MA in Arts Administration

Citation of Original Publication


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In a survey of nonprofit organizations, forty-seven percent of arts and cultural respondents report "achieving long-term financial stability" as their organizations’ greatest challenge (Nonprofit Finance Fund). Capitalization projects have been developed by arts funders to address this issue, but these projects are insufficient. Now, arts funders and leaders realize that the US nonprofit arts sector “must drive their own efforts to becoming capitalized” (Grantmakers in the Arts). One possibility for filling the funding gap is the creation of a currency which would circulate throughout the arts sector. Vijay Mathew and Polly Carl have proposed a digital arts currency called Culture Coin. This paper presents an argument for combining Culture Coin with paper cultural dollars to create better capitalization and thereby long-term financial stability in the US nonprofit arts sector. Arts currency can be adapted from community-based currency systems called community currency. Community currency literature reveals that these systems provide significant economic impact during periods of financial instability (Krohn and Snyder 53). Experts’ studies of community currency systems in Mexico, Argentina, Ireland, and the UK strongly suggest that hybrid systems—combining digital and paper—are more flexible, inclusive, secure, and stable than systems based solely on either digital or paper. In the nonprofit arts, a hybrid arts currency system supports the first two principles of capitalization: liquidity and adaptability of funding. However, it is the third principle, durability, where an arts currency system will encounter significant challenge. Ideas to address some of these challenges are provided in the conclusions.