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, Arab, Asian, 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.

October 9, 2020 by Eddie

The world is in the midst of a historic moment with our changing our practices in order to function during the pandemic and embracing the movement for racial justice. This is a time of great opportunity, as long as we recognize and embrace it. At the start of April I shared a letter calling for us to build deep resilience in our field.

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October 7, 2020 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

This piece by Inside Philanthropy's Mike Scutari sheds light on how Bonfils-Stanton Foundation "boosted annual support for arts organizations serving communities of color by 670% since 2013."

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October 5, 2020 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

Pillars recently introduced its Muslim Narrative Change Cohort, integrated by Muslim artists, practitioners, academics, and thinkers who, according to the announcement, "are creating a transformative narrative strategy that will offer us the opportunity to change stories, ideas, behaviors and, ultimately, society".

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September 28, 2020 by admin

The full transcript of this podcast is published below.
Explore the full GIA podcast.

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September 23, 2020 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

The Ford Foundation asked 40 thinkers to reimagine the future of the creative industry in the midst of "the social, racial, and economic reckoning laid bare by COVID-19 and a growing movement for Black lives." Creative Futures: 40 Provocations to Reimagine the Arts, Documentary, and Journalism is the result of that inquiry, a series of short essays that will unfold through the fall of 2020.

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September 20, 2020 by admin

It started in Fall 2016, when Staten Island Arts — the local arts council for the fifth borough of New York City — was approached by Kerry McCarthy and Michele Kumi Baer of The New York Community Trust, Betsy Dubovsky and Laura Jean Watters of The Staten Island Foundation, and Karen Rosa of the Altman Foundation. This group of concerned funders had observed that Staten Island’s arts programming audiences weren’t racially diverse, and came to us seeking to partner on a program that would thoughtfully address the issue.

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September 14, 2020 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

A memo by ABFE and The Bridgespan Group offers funders "potential paths to invest in organizations and movements within the Black-led racial justice ecosystem. It provides principles for giving and highlights priority investment areas and example organizations within those areas."

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September 3, 2020 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) has been analyzing grantmaking by community foundations across the country to find out "how much they are – or are not – investing in Black communities."

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August 21, 2020 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

"It’s time to have a real discussion about board and staff engagement when it comes to equity change so that the whole organization can collaborate to seed and root transformative change," Kelly Bates wrote recently in Interaction Institute of Social Change.

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