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.

June 23, 2021 by Eddie

In his recent blog post, Backlash: A Sharp Right Turn by a Philanthropy Member Organization, Phil Buchanan, president of Center for Effective Philanthropy, calls out the current critique of pro-BIPOC philanthropy.

June 21, 2021 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

Equity in the Center's Race Equity Cycle Pulse Check is a free, online tool "to assess where organizations are on the Race Equity Cycle."

June 21, 2021 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

Theatre Communications Group announced the launch of THRIVE!, a regranting program to provide unrestricted funds and professional development and technical assistance for U.S.- based Black Theaters, Indigenous Theaters, and all Theaters of Color (BITOC), according to the Blackfilm.com.

June 10, 2021 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

E. San San Wong, Barr Foundation program director and GIA Board of Directors alumni, wrote recently a piece on why centering racial equity is necessary for achieving Barr’s Arts & Creativity program goals.

June 8, 2021 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

The New York Life Foundation in partnership with the Afterschool Alliance announced $1.5 million in new grants to 36 youth development organizations to support disadvantaged middle school youth during the out-of-school time (OST) hours.

June 2, 2021 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

In his most recent blog, Vu Le discusses ways in which white supremacy manifests in nonprofit and philanthropy.

May 27, 2021 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

A $12.6 million regional initiative of America’s Cultural Treasures will provide new funding for Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Asian American-led arts organizations, states the announcement.

May 18, 2021 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

Inside Philanthropy checks in with leaders in the arts funding sector to see how the space has changed in response to calls to fight systemic racism and what remains to be done.

May 13, 2021 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

The Joyce Foundation launched recently a new grantmaking strategy through 2025 for its programs, focused on racial equity and economic mobility for culture and other funding areas.

May 13, 2021 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

PolicyLink recently released "10 Priorities for Advancing Racial Equity Through the American Rescue Plan: A guide for city and county policymakers," suggesting municipal strategies for deploying ARP funds equitably, efficiently, and strategically.