Racial Equity

Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) is committed to addressing structural inequities and increasing philanthropic and government support for BIPOC artists and arts organizations. Racial equity is a lens through which GIA aims to conduct all of its work, as well as a specific area of its programming.

Since 2008, GIA has been elevating racial equity as a critical issue affecting the field. To actualize this work within the sector, GIA published its Racial Equity in Arts Funding Statement of Purpose in 2015. Through webinars, articles, convenings, and conference sessions, GIA provides training and information to support arts funders in addressing historic and structural inequity through their grantmaking practices as part of an effort for racial justice as a means toward justice for all.

GIA believes that all oppressed groups should benefit from funding. We give primacy to race because racism is the means by which oppressed groups are manipulated into opposing programs that assist them. Therefore, Grantmakers in the Arts’ equity work – including our discussions of support for trans artists, artists with disabilities and for disability arts – is NOT race-exclusive but IS race-explicit. GIA’s vision for the future of our work is to increasingly reveal how the liberation of all oppressed people is interdependent.

GIA has made a strategic decision to foreground racial equity in our work for several reasons:

  • Within other oppressed peoples’ communities (including women, members of the lgbtqi community, people with disabilities, and others), it has been well-documented that people of color still face the worst social outcomes.
  • GIA feels that others’ strategies of combining considerations of race with other considerations too often result in racialized people being pushed into the background or ignored.
  • The U.S.’ creation of race was established to keep oppressed peoples separate.

Unless we articulate our support for racialized peoples, while calling out this separation strategy, we inadvertently reinforce this separation strategy.

Specific themes of our racial equity programming include:

  • The analysis of how funding practices create structural challenges for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color)/ALAANA (African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, Native-American) organizations (Eurocentric quality standards, matching requirements, among others).
  • The impact of these practices, as manifest in racialized disparities in levels of funding.
  • An exploration of the use of coded language to justify racial inequity (i.e. referring to white audiences as “general” or “mainstream,” while organizations of color are “culturally-specific.”

When it comes to self-identifying language, GIA seeks to use terms that communicate our respect. We do not seek to impose language on members of any group. We respect the manner in which anyone prefers to self-identify. When referring to issues of racial equity, “we use the term BIPOC to highlight the unique relationship to whiteness that Indigenous and Black people have, which shapes the experiences of and relationship to white supremacy for all people of color within a U.S. context.” We take this explanation and practice from the BIPOC Project.

GIA has also used the racial and ethnic identifiers African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, and Native American. We have used African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, Native American – represented using the acronym ALAANA – because we know that many believe the term, “people of color,” conflates together entire groups of people and as a contrast to white. This results in a continued centering of whiteness as the norm and the standard from which other identities deviate.

GIA does not refer to organizations that are founded by, led by, and feature the work of ALAANA/BIPOC communities as “culturally-specific,” as we believe this term centers whiteness as the norm from which other organizations deviate.

GIA is committed to communicating respectfully. GIA does not ask that anyone self-identify with or use any term other than ones they prefer.

December 14, 2023 by Jaime Sharp

From Council on Foundations: 

We invite philanthropic and nonprofit organizations to sign on to the statement below to join the Council on Foundations and Independent Sector in supporting the rights of philanthropic organizations, charitable nonprofits, and individual donors to give in ways that align with their values.  

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December 11, 2023 by Jaime Sharp

For the final conversation in 2023 for The Shift, Mark will be in conversation with the first woman of color to lead Dance/USA, a service organization for the dance field in its 40-year history. In this conversation, we will discuss how the Board of Directors should and can support women of color in executive leadership positions in the non-profit sector.

The discussion will stream on LinkedIn on Tuesday, December 12 from 2-2:45pm EST. Learn more here.

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October 30, 2023 by Jaime Sharp

"With the stroke of a pen, the highest court in the land declared open season on the American Dream this summer when it effectively ended affirmative action in college admissions," said Stacey Abrams and Julián Castro for The Chronicle of Philanthropy. "The ruling put a target on all policies and programs that seek to remediate and prevent race-based discrimination everywhere, including workplaces and polling places — potentially imperiling the 2024 elections and opening the floodgates for far-reaching attacks on civil rights."

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October 30, 2023 by Jaime Sharp

In her keynote for the 2023 Unity Summit Conference last week, Susan Batten referenced The California Reparations Report. 

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October 2, 2023 by Jaime Sharp

From Cora Daniels for Chronicle of Philanthropy: For me, it was a mic-drop moment. Morgan Dawson, co-CEO of Threshold Philanthropy, was speaking on a panel about Black women in philanthropy during this year’s Essence Fest, commonly touted as the largest annual gathering of Black women in the nation.

“In philanthropy,” she said, “we often talk about community, but in the way of being better philanthropists, and I wish it was in the context of being better neighbors.”

What would a world look like in which philanthropy considered Black women, girls, and gender-expansive people true neighbors?

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September 5, 2023 by Jaime Sharp

A majority of Black-led and Black-benefiting nonprofits operate on less than $500,000 a year, a report released by the Young, Black & Giving Back Institute finds, said Candid.

Supported by the Nielsen Foundation through its Data for Good grant program, the report, Grassroots, Black & Giving: How Philanthropy Can Better Support Black-led and Black-Benefiting Nonprofits (25 pages, PDF), found that Black-led and -benefiting nonprofits are often grassroots, hyper-local, and founder-led, with deep connections to the communities they serve.

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August 14, 2023 by Jaime Sharp

"Friends, family members and activists are mourning the death of O'Shae Sibley, a Black gay man who was stabbed late last month while dancing with friends at a New York City gas station," said Rachel Treisman for NPR. "The 28-year-old professional dancer and choreographer was killed while voguing to Beyoncé's music as his friends filled up their car on the way home from the Jersey Shore on July 29."

The voguing tributes to Sibley are especially fitting, Williams says, as they "personify the LGBTQ community's historic resilience amid highly discouraging societal treatment."

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