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.

March 9, 2023 by Jaime Sharp

From Artist Communities Alliance: ACA’s President and CEO, Lisa Funderburke hosts a conversation with four arts leaders, who are committed to supporting Black arts workers in the artist residency field and beyond.
Panelists include:

March 8, 2023 by Jaime Sharp

From the National Endowment for the Arts: The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is pleased to announce the appointment of Jason Packineau (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Pueblo of Jemez, Pueblo of Laguna) as NEH’s first Strategic Advisor for Native and Indigenous Affairs.

In this new position, Packineau will serve as the lead policy and strategy advisor for NEH’s outreach and engagement with Tribal Nations and Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities. He will also coordinate NEH’s Tribal consultation policy, develop partnerships that enhance the agency’s support of Indigenous communities, and support convenings, listening sessions, capacity-building, and information sharing among state and jurisdictional Indigenous networks.

March 1, 2023 by Jaime Sharp

From the MacArthur Foundation, "Black feminist organizers are addressing the systemic challenges facing democracy, yet Black feminist organizations receive less than half of one percent of foundation giving world-wide. MacArthur, along with several other funders, is supporting an effort to rectify this disparity. 'We work on many different issues, but we are united by a common conviction: It’s time to fund Black feminist movements like we want them to win.'"

February 28, 2023 by Jaime Sharp

An open letter to philanthropy

In rare moments in philanthropy, history and opportunity meet, and donors everywhere are presented with a chance to contribute to a dramatic leap forward. These moments bring an opening to make generational progress on the most pressing issues of our time. A space for courage to confront philanthropy’s broken promises and practices of the past. A vehicle to shift resources—quickly and deeply—to our most innovative leaders at the forefront of change. We are writing today because we believe that the Black Feminist Fund is that opportunity. And this is our time. As a growing community of individual donors, institutional leaders, and donor advocates, we urge you to join us while momentum is on our side.

February 14, 2023 by Jaime Sharp

"Just a few days into the 118th Congress, it feels like our nation is trapped in a cycle of vitriol and discord. Thousands of (reported) hate crimes, increases in antisemitism, racist election campaigns and our enduring partisan political divide make the goal of unity under a set of universally supportive values seem farther away than ever," said La June Montgomery Tabron for MSNBC. "Meanwhile, our collective, annual celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which occurred yesterday, is a time when many of us participate in service projects and reflect on what it would take to achieve racial equity in the current environment."

February 13, 2023 by Jaime Sharp

"I didn’t see it coming, but maybe I should have," said Salamisha Tillet for the New York Times. "That refrain has been popping into my head repeatedly since learning that neither Viola Davis (“The Woman King”) nor Danielle Deadwyler (“Till”) was nominated for the best actress Oscar and that Andrea Riseborough and Ana de Armas had emerged as this year’s spoilers."

February 3, 2023 by Jaime Sharp

From the California Black Freedom Fund: "We, the undersigned, lead philanthropic institutions throughout California that came together to seed and establish the California Black Freedom Fund. Established just two and a half years ago following the brutal murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and countless others, the California Black Freedom Fund was created to mobilize the resources necessary to build Black power and eradicate systemic and institutional racism."

February 2, 2023 by Jaime Sharp

"Like you, I’ve been thinking about the police brutally murdering Tyre Nichols in Memphis, the latest in the countless murders of Black people by the police," said Vu Le for Nonprofit AF. "I’m thinking of Tyre Nichols, who loved skateboarding and photography and who had a son a little younger than my six-year-old, and I’m thinking of his family, whom he was just trying to get home to. I cannot imagine their pain."

February 1, 2023 by Jaime Sharp

We at Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) must express our grief at the loss of 18 innocent lives and injuring 10 others in the shootings at Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay this January. It is especially devastating as Lunar New Year celebrations are a time for joy and family, culture and community.

January 30, 2023 by Jaime Sharp

From The Chronicle of Philanthropy, "The need to increase funding for Black feminist organizations is urgent, according to an open letter released Thursday from some of philanthropy’s most influential organizations, including Melinda Gates’a Pivotal Ventures, Rihanna’s Clara Lionel Foundation, as well as the Ford Foundation and MacArthur Foundation."