Racial Equity and Social Justice

Outline of GIA’s Work in Equity

In the course of its relatively short history, Grantmakers in the Arts has used a variety of platforms (newsletters, peer-reviewed journals, annual conferences, and other programs) to shine light on issues that impact, improve, and strengthen arts philanthropy. Since 2008, GIA has been elevating racial equity and social justice as a critical issue affecting the field. In 2013, the board approved a motion to make Racial Equity an organizational priority. An historical outline of GIA's recent work in equity is available online, including GIA Reader articles, blog posts, and YouTube videos from past conference keynote sessions.

For more research and articles on Racial Equity and Social Justice in Arts Philanthropy, go to Library and search “Art and Social Justice” or click here.

Posted on September 22, 2015 by Steve

Grantmakers in the Arts invites interested and qualified consulting firms or individuals through an RFP process to submit a proposal to conduct an organization-wide audit of GIA’s internal documents and policies and external communication as they pertain to the organization’s goals of racial equity in arts philanthropy.

Deadline for proposals is October 26, 2015.

Posted on August 24, 2015 by Steve

A post from Vu Le, director of Rainier Valley Corps, on his blog Nonprofit with Balls:

For the past few years, everyone has been talking about Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Cultural Competency. This is good. But when these things do not actually come with profound changes in systems and processes, they can actually cause more harm. Equity, in particular, has been a shiny new concept adopted by many funders. A basic tenet of equity in our line of work is that the communities that are most affected by societal problems are leading the efforts to address these challenges. And yet, many foundations’ application process is deeply inequitable, leaving behind the people and communities who are most affected by the injustices we as a sector are trying to address.

Read the full post.

Posted on August 17, 2015 by Steve

Grantmakers in the Arts hosted a national dialogue for arts funders on June 2, 2015 on increasing funding and access to funding for African, Latino(a), Asian, Arab and Native American (ALAANA) organizations. It was held at the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta. You can now view the presentations from the forum web page, including those by Carlton Turner and Kenny Leon, and also including a pair of panel discussions from the nonprofit field and from the philanthropic field.

Posted on June 9, 2015 by Steve

Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) has launched artEquity, a facilitator training initiative on inclusion and equity issues for theatre companies nationwide. The program, which will have its first retreats in September and October, is supported by a $145,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. It will bring together a group of 25–35 theatre professionals annually to participate in analysis-building workshops and skills-based sessions and will address issues of ally-building, identity and privilege, and share the best methods of facilitating organizational change for theatre groups.

Read more about artEquity.

Posted on June 4, 2015 by Steve

From the website Transom, Al Letson, host of the NPR show State of the Re:Union writes this manifesto for the Megopolis Festival that takes place June 5-7, in Oakland, California.

Long before I started working on State of the Re:Union (SOTRU), poet Sekou Sundiata, told me ‘one of the biggest issues in America is the country’s collective amnesia’. Our ability to forget whatever didn’t work in the narrative of these United States. We consume the world, and if the bones stick in our craw we spit them out and fly away. In some ways that might be our biggest strength as Americans, the ability to move on; to put one foot in front of the other and face the future. On the surface, it may seem admirable, but moving on without cleaning up just leaves devastation in its wake. Sekou went on to say ‘Our selective memory in essence has broken time’ — we live only in the present and the acceptable past. Much of Sekou’s life revolved around reclaiming our collective memory.

Read the full essay.

Posted on March 24, 2015 by Steve

Grantmakers in the Arts releases a statement of purpose for racial equity in arts philanthropy, which will direct the work of the organization moving forward.

Posted on March 5, 2015 by Steve

From Robin Pogrebin at The New York Times:

The city’s initiative comes as the lack of racial diversity in culture has been widely noted, including Neil Patrick Harris’s recent reference to the whiteness of the Oscars. In addition, the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, just released its second “Hollywood Diversity Report,” which found racial and gender imbalances in film and television.

The Department of Cultural Affairs announced its planned survey at a meeting in January at the Ford Foundation that was attended by about 230 representatives of arts groups. An additional 200 attended a second meeting last month at BRIC, a nonprofit arts and media organization in Brooklyn. Arts executives who went to the meetings said they welcomed the city’s effort and did not view it with alarm.

Read the full article.

Posted on February 2, 2015 by Steve

From Phil Chan, writing for Huffington Post:

Where do we start to implement solutions? Are there no black dancers on stage because there are no young black dancers in the audience, or are there no young black dancers in the audience because there are no black dancers on stage? Our efforts must focus on addressing both the economic obstacles and the lack of diverse representation; diversity arts initiatives and performing arts organizations must continue to address both in tandem in order for change to take place, with the realization that it will take several generations of active engagement with the issue for more progress to be seen.

Read the full post.

Posted on January 26, 2015 by Steve

From Diep Tran, writing for American Theatre:

Sometimes all you need is a push. At least that’s the thinking behind the 51% Preparedness Plan that was released last week. East West Players artistic director Tim Dang wrote the plan, which calls on Southern California theatres to diversify their staff and programming.

“We’re in Southern California, we prepare for earthquakes. Are we preparing for the demographic shift that is going to happen in 2042?” posits Dang. “We should prepare now, for theatre.”

But why 2042? That’s the date, in projections by the Census Bureau, that the minority population in the United States will reach 54 percent, outnumbering non-Hispanic whites. So what does that mean for theatre?

Read the full article.

Posted on January 16, 2015 by SuJ'n

Released in the fall and in collaboration with D5 Coalition, OMG Center for Collaborative Learning (newly renamed Equal Measure) released Foundations Facilitate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Partnering with Community and Nonprofits. This report outlines eight specific practices that foundations can do to facilitate diversity, equity, and inclusion with non-profit grantees and their communities. While this report is not targeted to the arts and cultural sector, the framework and findings can be used to strengthen any sector's works towards racial equity and inclusion. Download the full report here.

Posted on January 6, 2015 by SuJ'n

From Jennifer Smith of The Wall Street Journal:

A mecca for the arts, New York City has also become one of the most multicultural cities in the country, with no single dominant racial or ethnic group and residents who speak more than 200 languages, according to the Department of City Planning. Whether its cultural institutions reflect those demographics is another issue.

To find out, the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs is embarking on its first effort to measure diversity at the city’s many museums and performing arts groups. The aim is to help cultural organizations connect with New York’s increasingly polyglot population.

“For the long-term vitality and relevancy of cultural institutions, it makes sense to have the staffs reflect that,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl.

Read the full article here.

Posted on December 19, 2014 by Steve

From Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation:

Nearly a half century ago, during the final days of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, he penned what he called a “testament of hope,” an epistle he could not have known would be among his last. “Whenever I am asked my opinion of the current state of the civil rights movement,” Dr. King began, “I am forced to pause; it is not easy to describe a crisis so profound that it has caused the most powerful nation in the world to stagger in confusion and bewilderment.”

During these past few weeks, as each of us has attempted to make sense of Michael Brown and Eric Garner’s senseless killings, “confusion and bewilderment” abound. In private moments and public demonstrations, we have been overwhelmed with emotion. We have grappled with disbelief, frustration, shame, and anger. Yet, confronted anew with a crisis as old as the country, it’s my conviction that we must give our own testament of hope.

Read the full post.

Posted on December 17, 2014 by SuJ'n

From the news page of Arts Council England, post dated December 8, 2014:

A ‘fundamental shift’ in the Arts Council’s approach to diversity was announced today by Chair Sir Peter Bazalgette, in a momentous speech that placed responsibility on every funded organisation to make their programme of work more reflective of the communities they serve.

Read more about this announcement here.

Posted on December 17, 2014 by SuJ'n

From LA Weekly:

Two days ago, Stacey Allan, a Wikipedia expert from Cal Arts, and Denise McIver, the California African-American Museum librarian, held an "edit-a-thon" to add black visual and performing artists to Wikipedia. When the day ended, arts experts and everyday citizens had added 15 noteworthy African Americans—who until then had been non-existent on the globally influential encyclopedia.

Read more here.

Posted on December 10, 2014 by Steve

On December 10, the Asian American Arts Alliance was speaking out on the steps of New York City Hall on the critical need for public funding of small, community-based arts and cultural organizations that work on the front lines, serving the needs of a diverse and complex city. “We’re lucky to be standing here with you, but we really represent the untold thousands of artists from under-represented communities who are producing some of the most innovative and exciting art out there,” said Executive Director Andrea Louie at a press conference announcing the new $1.5 million Cultural Immigrant Initiative. Cultural organizations across the five boroughs will receive discretionary grants to provide access and arts programming to immigrant communities.

Read the full announcement.

Posted on November 30, 2014 by SuJ'n

Artistic responses to the Ferguson no-indictment decision add to a long history of the arts being used to spotlight and counter injustice. Kim Diggs writes for North Texas' Star Local Media:

Because the arts have historically been instrumental in pushing agendas for social change, could the same tactics work to affect judicial change?

On Nov. 26, a day after the verdict to not indict Wilson was announced, Buffalo Black, a Dallas-based independent hip-hop artist tweeted a song he'd uploaded to Sound Cloud back in September called “Blood Lines.” The track was described as a tribute to Brown... Many of the lyrics in the song were written as if he was, at that moment, the voice of the African-American community, speaking out of frustration from witnessing and experiencing similar situations.

Read the full article here.

Posted on November 19, 2014 by SuJ'n

Inside Philanthropy shares a blog post by Doug Stamm, CEO of Meyer Memorial Trust Fund, on his journey from being comfortable with his "socially liberal bona fides" to meaningfully involving himself and the foundation with the struggle for racial equity. The article goes on to provide resources to help other foundations get started, or get deeper in, integrating racial equity lenses in their work - including Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity's volume of articles entitled Moving Forward on Racial Justice Philanthropy released this summer. 

Posted on November 17, 2014 by SuJ'n

The Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund of San Francisco is offering a two year paid Program Fellowship at a starting annual salary of $70,000, plus benefits, with substantial professional development opportunities averaging a day a month (including senior staff coaching and mentoring, staff training and meetings, participation in workshops, and conferences). Applications are due by December 22, 2014 with the term to start on or about February 2, 2015.

Learn more.

Posted on November 10, 2014 by SuJ'n

During the summer of 2014, the editorial team at Createquity scanned the research on diversity in arts patronage, arts creation, and arts administration. It found that research generally fell into four categories: 1) arts participation, 2) broad demographic shifts impacting the field, 3) specific demographic shifts impacting specific disciplines, and 4) recommendations to arts organizations on how to diversify their audiences. Last week, the team shared about its initial thoughts on the research scan and the development of their hypotheses. Read more here.

Posted on October 22, 2014 by SuJ'n

In October 2014, at the GIA 2014 Conference in Houston, Aaron Dworkin (The Sphinx Organization), Maurine Knighton (Nathan Cummings Foundation), and Roberta Uno (Ford Foundation) presented a session on addressing the significant disparity in how funding reaches underserved communities and smaller arts organizations. Per its design, the intended session outcome was to develop a list of key strategies to address inequitable funding in collaboration with the audience members. Here it is:

23 Key Strategies/Best Practices

  1. Question what we accept as given language. Excellence redefined: rigor, aesthetic value, innovation (R. Uno)
  2. Re-examine the intersection of arts and culture through the lens of today’s demographics (under-represented to whom/which community?) (R. Uno)
  3. Shifting the paradigm of current inequity. How do we fund up smaller organizations and build their capacity? (R. Uno)
  4. Work with large, non-diverse organizations, as well as small, diverse organizations. Encourage meaningful, intentional cohorts and partnerships within organizations and between...