MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: MISSISSIPPI ARTS COMMISSION

For the months of November and December, GIA’s photo banner features work and artists supported by Mississippi Arts Commission. Established in 1968, and funded annually by the Mississippi Legislature, the National Endowment for the Arts, and private funds, MAC provides grants, technical assistance, consultation, and networking to artists, arts organizations, and institutions providing arts education throughout the state.

Posted on November 16, 2017 by Monica

The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA) introduces several new funding streams that states and districts can use to improve schools, including 12 that could be used to support arts integration. But in order to access those funding streams, education agencies must cite evidence demonstrating that the efforts they propose can, in fact, improve student achievement.

A recently published literature review from The Wallace Foundation explores research available on arts integration activities and finds 44 that could qualify for ESSA funding (10 studies met Tier I-III evidence standards for strong, moderate or promising evidence, while 34 met the Tier IV standard for having a research-based rationale). Interventions, including those that use music to teach students fractions, drama to help improve vocabulary and dance to teach kindergarteners to read.

Read the report from The Wallace Foundation.

Posted on November 15, 2017 by Monica

The Art for Justice Fund, launched earlier this year with a $100 million donation from philanthropist Agnes Gund, today announced the first round of grant recipients in the areas of criminal justice reform and the arts. With awards ranging from $100,000 to $7.5 million, a total of $22 million was awarded to 30 innovative programs that seek to safely reduce prison populations, strengthen education and employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated people, and humanize people affected by the criminal justice system.

Read the full announcement.

Posted on November 15, 2017 by Monica

Jazz legend Sonny Rollins has designated a gift to Oberlin College to establish and maintain the Sonny Rollins Jazz Ensemble Fund at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. From the press release:

Variable in size, the Sonny Ensemble will perform in flexible configurations in both formal settings and outreach programs, in venues across the region and around the world. Members, called “Sonny Scholars,” must dedicate at least two semesters to performing in the ensemble.

More than a mere spot in an elite unit, membership in the ensemble requires a commitment to service through music and willingness to give for others—core principles exemplified by Rollins throughout his life and career.

Posted on November 15, 2017 by Steve

Douglas McLennan of ArtsJournal recently sat down for a one-on-one interview with Janet Brown, reflecting on her tenure at GIA and some important issues for the field of arts philanthropy today. Read Janet’s insights on changes and challenges in the field, capitalization, funding models, racial equity, and arts participation in the latest issue of the GIA Reader.

Posted on November 14, 2017 by Monica

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation announced the first 10 recipients of its Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions, an $8 million commissioning initiative that is the largest of its kind in the United States. Reflecting the foundation’s longstanding commitment to sustaining artistic expression and encouraging public engagement with the arts in the San Francisco Bay Area, 10 local nonprofit organizations will receive grants of $150,000 each to commission major new musical compositions from world-class artists in genres including chamber, electronic, jazz, opera, and hip hop.

Posted on November 13, 2017 by Monica

In a letter to colleagues, Phillip Henderson announced his decision to step down from his role as president of Surdna Foundation:

Earlier this week, I informed the Surdna board of my intention to step down from my post as soon as they have identified a successor. I am proud of the work we have done at the Foundation since I arrived in 2007, and I believe it is time for me to move on and also time to bring in a new leader to propel the Foundation forward.

I am very proud to have helped Surdna close out its first century with some notable achievements. We put pursuing socially just and sustainable communities in the United States at the heart of the Foundation’s mission. We found our voice in the pursuit of social justice particularly in communities of color across the country.

Posted on November 9, 2017 by Steve

The latest issue of the GIA Reader includes an essay by Detroit writer and storyteller Marsha Music. “The Kidnapped Children of Detroit” tells the story of “white flight” in 1960’s Detroit and the racial dynamics that have shaped the city’s past and present. Marsha Music reflects on her personal experience as a Detroit native and offers a hopeful message as the city continues to change today.

Posted on November 8, 2017 by Monica

Kenneth Rainin Foundation announced $3 million in additional funding for the Community Arts Stabilization Trust (CAST), an organization that protects San Francisco Bay Area arts and cultural organizations from displacement. This three-year grant will help CAST realize an ambitious goal to acquire 100,000 square feet of space for arts groups by the end of 2018. With this funding, CAST will expand and prioritize its work in Oakland to create permanently affordable spaces for arts organizations, as well as continue its work in San Francisco.

Posted on November 8, 2017 by Monica

A recent op-ed by Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert Lynch highlights partnerships between artists and local governments to "enhance awareness, knowledge, and discourse around issues; shift attitudes; promote effective participation and action; and improve systems and policies that ensure social justice.":

To help remodel the city’s narrative through the eyes of its citizens, Mayor Duggan conceived a plan to give Detroiters a way to connect and discuss issues that don’t get covered by the city’s traditional media, and give Detroiters and their neighborhoods a stronger voice.

Last March, Mayor Duggan hired popular journalist Aaron Foley to be the city’s “chief storyteller,” embedded in, and employed by, city government. Believing that local residents deserve better and more diverse stories about their neighborhoods and the reality of living in the city, Foley created an online platform called The Neighborhoods, where these stories can be shared.

Posted on November 7, 2017 by Monica

In a recent blog post, Barry Hessenius offers thoughts on GIA’s geographic and leadership transition:

This new beginning will give the organization and the philanthropic community it represents a chance to evaluate where it's come from, and moving to, and most importantly, where it now wants to go. This is a rare opportunity for a national organization to re-think policy and protocol and move in new directions while solidifying its deepest commitments.
Posted on November 6, 2017 by Monica

At the closing plenary of the 2017 GIA Conference, Rip Rapson spoke on how The Kresge Foundation has reasserted its values and called on arts funders and cultural workers to continue to put their own values into action.

“In no time in my memory has it been more important for arts and culture to become part of a larger movement of social justice — helping strengthen the alliances necessary to speak and advance those truths of equity, fairness, and justice that we know to be inviolable.”

Read the full transcript.

Posted on November 1, 2017 by SuJ'n

For the months of November and December, GIA’s photo banner features work and artists supported by Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC). Established in 1968, and funded annually by the Mississippi Legislature, the National Endowment for the Arts, and private funds, MAC provides grants, technical assistance, consultation, and networking to artists, arts organizations, and institutions providing arts education throughout the state.

Posted on October 31, 2017 by Steve

Lara Davis reports from day 2 of the 2017 GIA Conference:

Day 2. The scene: A passionate conversation with fellow conference attendees over breakfast. We are grateful for this time together to eat free food, consume coffee, hear from more local artist activists and cultural workers, and begin reflecting on some of the learning that defines our conference experiences over the last few days. We exchange information on sessions that have challenged us due to either an unwillingness to go deep enough, or their readiness to move us so profoundly that we’re already changed. The latter by far represents the collective experience of my table mate colleagues, and soon to be friends.

During the conversation, some key questions rise to the surface. We land on – what are you willing to risk for justice through your work and the philanthropic field? We stay here for some time. You see, we recognize that things like race and social positionality (i.e., where you rank in organizational hierarchy) have bearing on whether we act or remain inert. Formal power is always present in these spaces. So, are personal agency, and the potential for collective power.

In any case, this little question worm makes its way into my conscience like a red wiggler in a compost bin (which I assure you, is a good thing) and stays with me throughout the day’s journey.

Read the full post.

Posted on October 30, 2017 by Steve

Conference blogger Lara Davis reports on day 1 of the 2017 GIA Conference.

The Detroit Idea Lab, Though…

If you didn’t already know, the Idea Lab is hands down my favorite thing about GIA Conferences. (If there’s any doubt, just see my previous conference blog posts.) No shade to the sessions, which undoubtedly convene a stellar array of peoples and perspectives, creating space for needed critical learning and dialog. The morning blessing that is the Idea Lab, though, situates us all in an artist-centered, artist-led ecology.

So, Detroit artists are woke AF. But, you already knew. Home grown brilliance all around. And, they ain’t playing. Their call to action is like no other – as unique as the city that was home to revolutionary activist Grace Lee Boggs, and that spawned Motown and Techno music. This morning’s plenary ushered in the likes of Taylor Renee Aldridge whose work as a writer and curator exists in “direct response to the misnomers that do not consider Black people.” Accompanied by a masked drummer, Bryce Detroit brought a Detroit-style Afrocentric essence to the stage, speaking on “actualizing justice” as anathema to the idea of funders who parachute resources into a community without context, relationship or an understanding of a people’s readiness in the face persistent injustice. Jenny Lee, Allied Media Conference’s fearless leader, organizes through a confluence of arts/culture/community. I literally get chills when I watch AMC’s promo video including artists and organizers that are POC, indigenous, Muslim, intergenerational, intersectional… the list goes so beautifully on. Swoon!

Read the full post...

Posted on October 29, 2017 by Steve

Conference blogger Lara Davis reports on the 2017 GIA Preconference.

“Nothing about us without us is for us.”

This proverb, popularized by South African disability and youth activists, served as the introductory frame for the daylong precon, Racial Equity in Arts Philanthropy. These words were presented by facilitators as a challenge to the ways in which institutions may approach racial equity. (Think, colonialism. Think, the opposite of liberatory practices.) It set the tone outright for a conversation and exploration of racial inequity in art philanthropy that is at once structural and foundational to how a nation built upon racialized capitalism, i.e., genocide and slavery, operates.

So then, what is the real opportunity for racial equity within this context? The answer to that question is fundamentally rooted in both understanding the historic and persistent role arts philanthropy plays in maintaining racial inequity, and actively working to dismantle the racism rampant within and perpetrated by the field – by shifting power (money, resources, etc.) to ALAANA communities. A mouthful, I know. I’ll let these words by the wonderfully smart and funny Vu Le (Nonprofit AF) state it more succinctly.

Read the full post.

Posted on October 24, 2017 by Monica

Grantmakers in the Arts is relocating its offices to New York City in January, 2018 and is seeking to hire several staff positions. Under the leadership of Eddie Torres, president & CEO, GIA will begin reviewing applications on November 17 and all positions will remain open until filled. View all open positions.

Posted on October 24, 2017 by Monica

A recent article in American Theatre describes an effort by mid-sized arts institutions in Atlanta to collectively address common fundraising challenges:

Lisa Adler, the producing artistic director at Horizon Theatre Company, had an idea. She recognized that all of the city’s midsize nonprofit theatres were asking the same funders and corporations for the same small pool of money (the Georgia Council of the Arts, for instance, has had to split $1,111,501 among 114 organizations). Her idea was to form a collective of theatres so that when they went before funders, they presented themselves as one organization with a multimillion dollar operating budget, instead of as individual, small-budget theatres.

Read the full article from American Theatre.

Posted on October 24, 2017 by Steve

In “Detroit Imagines Itself: Art of the Ex-industrial,” Detroit-based writer Sarah Rose Sharp offers a thoughtful overview of the history, strengths, and challenges of the city’s vibrant arts community.

Posted on October 23, 2017 by Monica

The Wallace Foundation is publishing a series of market research reports to support efforts to improve attendance and audience engagement at arts institutions around the country. As reported by Nonprofit Quarterly:

In response to a declining audience base for many major art forms, the Wallace Foundation’s $52 million [Building Audiences for Sustainability] initiative looked at Ballet Austin. . . . Over time, BAS will study a total of 25 performing arts organizations. The goal is to help these individual arts organizations as well as to develop insights for the arts field in general.
Posted on October 19, 2017 by Monica

From artnet news:

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation are teaming up with theater impresario Lin-Manuel Miranda to donate $300,000 to Puerto Rico relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Maria. The gift, announced on Tuesday, will aid arts and cultural workers who are struggling in the aftermath of the devastating storm, which rendered an estimated 3.4 million people without power and all but destroyed the island’s energy grid. (As of press time, Maria had claimed at least 48 lives, and more than 80 percent of the power grid is still not functioning.)

Read the full article from artnet news.

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