Whitney Biennial 2017
Audio Guide Playlist


Social Impact Bonds marketize social services as well as their recipients. As instruments of austerity, they structure temporary social services as investment opportunities, which utilize private service providers to reduce government spending. Social Impact Bonds are initiated between a government agency and a private intermediary organization. A Social Impact Bond contract, also referred to as a Pay for Success contract, indicates “specific social outcomes” to be achieved in a set time period.

The intermediary organization selects a nonprofit service provider to design a program in pursuit of the outcomes. The intermediary then works to raise capital for the program by issuing either debt or equity to private investors. At the end of the period, a third-party evaluator determines the success of the program. If the “social outcomes” are achieved, the government repays the investors the principal as well as a return on investment proportional to the presumed public savings. If the outcomes are not achieved, the investors are not repaid.

This artwork consists of a $25,000 investment by the Whitney Museum of American Art in a Social Impact Bond to reduce recidivism in Ventura County California. This artwork includes all information distributed to the Whitney as an investor, which is covered by a nondisclosure agreement for five years. Any return on this investment will be retained by the Whitney Museum.


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