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.

April 6, 2021 by admin

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April 5, 2021 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

The Associated Press reported recently corporate giving to racial equity causes has far outpaced donations from foundations and individual philanthropists since Floyd’s killing in May, according to the philanthropy research organization Candid.

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March 26, 2021 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

A panel hosted in May 2020 by the Freelance Artist Resource Collective on building solidarity in and with Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities featured important conversations that deserve reliving in the midst of acts of violence against Asian American communities.

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March 26, 2021 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

The McKnight Foundation implemented a new program devoted to equity and inclusion in Minnesota. In a conversation with the National Center for Family Philanthropy, David Nicholson, program director of the Vibrant & Equitable Communities program, talks about how that team is thinking about systems change and what they’ve learned so far.

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March 22, 2021 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

In its inaugural Cultural Equity report, the Arts & Science Council (ASC) shares the organization's journey of steps – and missteps – on its path to becoming an organization where its commitment to equity is reflected in its work.

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March 22, 2021 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

The Boston Foundation Arts & Culture team, the Barr Foundation and the Mayor's Office of Arts & Culture center racial equity, transparency and accountability join forces in a new approach to grantmaking.

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March 1, 2021 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

Grace Nicolette, vice president, Programming and External Relations of the Center for Effective Philanthropy, wrote recently that her observation from working in philanthropy for more than 15 years "is that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are often left out of conversations around race, either purposefully or by neglect."

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March 1, 2021 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

In its inaugural year, NPN’s Southern Artists for Social Change program awarded $300,000 through 12 project grants to artists and culture bearers of color engaging in social change in urban, rural, and tribal communities of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

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February 22, 2021 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

Toya Lillard wrote a piece in Hyperallergic that asks "the philanthropic, nonprofit, and education sectors to expand their circles of trust beyond white or white-adjacent executive leadership in order to water the roots."

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February 22, 2021 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

Philanthropic organizations and funders launched together the California Black Freedom Fund, a new $100 million initiative to provide resources to Black-led power-building organizations in the state over the next five years.

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