Our History

Since its inception in 1996, FAN has awarded over $4,500,000 in grants.

fifty over fifty, inc.

Funding Arts Network, originally known as fifty over fifty, inc. emerged from informal conversations in the early 1990’s between two Miami friends, Deborah Hoffman and Nita Maercks, both long-time patrons and supporters of the arts. Their concern about how to sustain a healthy cultural environment in Miami-Dade County in light of diminishing government and corporate funding for cultural programs, especially in South Florida, led them to develop a concept for an organization which would be an additional funding source for local visual and performing arts programs and also foster arts involvement and education among its members.

Hoffman and Maercks established a not-for-profit corporation. The initial goal was fifty members, each of whom would contribute $1,000 per year, to create an annual arts funding pool of $50,000, hence the group’s original name, fifty over fifty, inc.. Hoffman became the Founding President and led its growth through 2003. In 1996, the first year of its operation, fifty over fifty, inc. awarded $50,600 to seven programs in the visual and performing arts.

Since that time, the membership has grown to over 250. The original funding model guidelines are still in use with each member’s $1,000 contribution allocated to grants, and operating expenses covered by interest earned or funds contributed specifically for administrative purposes.

Funding Arts Network

In 2003 the name fifty over fifty, inc. was changed to Funding Arts Network (FAN) . The growing membership enabled FAN to award approximately $250,000 annually and, as of 2019, FAN has awarded more than $4, 500,000 in grants to support over 550 programs in the visual and performing arts.

Other important changes occurred in 2003 when the FAN board, under the leadership of Rachel Blechman and Barbara Garrett, added an Emerging Groups Category to the dance, music, theater and visual arts categories considered for funding. This enabled newer groups as well as established groups to receive FAN funding.

To further broaden FAN’s reach to arts providers and audiences, in September 2006, the board adopted a plan to add a Community Arts Group category in 2007. Smaller groups whose art expresses a particular racial, ethnic or cultural heritage in which they are grounded are considered in this category.

In 2006, in celebration of the 10th anniversary of FAN, the board also voted to provide a special grant for a new work, performed at least once in a manner which will reach a broad cross section of the population. FAN was honored to have the James S. and John L. Knight Foundation as its grant partner in this innovative award the Knight New Work Award, “KNWA”. The Knight Foundation provided funding in the amount of $50,000 each for two of these awards. In 2008, The Wolfsonian FIU received the KNWA for its innovative exhibition Thoughts on Democracy, a Reinterpretation of Norman Rockwell’s “Four Freedoms” posters by 60 contemporary artists. These continue to be seen at the American Airlines terminal D display area in the Miami International Airport. In 2009, Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator, received this award for “Elusive Landscapes” with the exhibition beginning in June of 2010 and culminating in a solo exhibition November 18-25, 2010.

The Knight Foundation continued its generosity by providing funding for the Knight New Work Award for another two years. The $25,000 KNWA recipient for 2010 was Tigertail Productions, Inc. for Global Caribbean II, with an exhibition in December of 2010. In 2011 the $25,000 KNWA recipient was the New World Symphony for Opening Fanfare, with a performance in October 2011.

In 2011 FAN created a program to bring further awareness and understanding of the arts to its members: FANFare: A Taste of……!, a lecture series on one of the four disciplines of Dance, Music, Theater or Visual Arts. Both members and non-members attended with members paying a discounted fee. These lectures were highly interactive, and the program was extremely popular.

Each year of its existence, FAN has refined and enhanced its policies and procedures to earn a well-deserved positive reputation for its informative meetings and its thorough and careful grant process that brings great benefits to its membership and the community.