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 22, 2017 by Monica

Members of the Racial Equity Funders Collaborative in Minnesota recently shared a letter on issues of racial inequity affecting the arts community and how they are working to address them:

We know that ultimately, to advance racial and cultural equity, we must remove barriers in our grantmaking policies and practices and change the distribution of resources. Changing this system will require new ideas and actions. At a minimum, our grantees and partners should expect our giving to reflect the demographics of our community. We are identifying our next steps for advancing this work.

Amidst historical and ongoing wrongs and errors, we are learning how to be more inclusive, equitable, and accountable. We are changing how we work.

Read the full letter.

Posted on November 21, 2017 by Monica

A recent report from Propel Nonprofits examines the financial health culturally specific organizations in Minnesota. The organization uses the term culturally specific to refer to “nonprofits led by people of color and rooted in historically marginalized communities.” From President & CEO Kate Barr:

The findings reinforced national research: these nonprofits operate in sectors that traditionally work with lower annual budgets, tend to be younger, and have disproportionally smaller operating budgets than their mainstream peers in the same sector. Crucially, compared to mainstream organizations in the same sector of similar budget size, these culturally specific organizations have smaller physical facilities, earn significantly less revenue, work with a markedly smaller share of unrestricted funds generated through trustee, individual and corporate donations, and have less unrestricted cash and lower unrestricted current assets.

Read the report.

Posted on November 21, 2017 by Monica

On Monday, November 20, the US Senate Appropriations Committee released a 2018 spending bill that would fund the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities at 2017 budget levels, $150 million for each agency. Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert Lynch released a statement Tuesday in response:

This action is in stark contrast to President Trump’s call for full termination of these agencies. I thank the strong leadership of Senate Subcommittee Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Ranking Member Tom Udall (D-NM), both of whom were awarded our Congressional Arts Leadership Award in 2017 and 2015, respectively.

The Senate Appropriations bill is $5 million higher than the $145 million funding level allocated by the House of Representatives in July. As the Senate and House will need to reconcile to reach a final funding decision, Americans for the Arts is urging support for the Senate version.

Posted on November 20, 2017 by Monica

The Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County, Nathan Slack, has announced that the council’s President & CEO Rena Blades will step down on January 15, 2018. Some of the major milestones during Blades’ tenure with the council include: the creation and execution of three separate strategic plans, the establishment of art&culture magazine that is now in its 11th year of publication and has garnered more than 25 publication awards, [and] increasing the county’s funding of arts and culture by $1 million+ annually. . . .

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.

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