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.

June 15, 2020 by admin

We at Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) continue our call to funders to commit to Black communities through action and, importantly, investment! We join the call of our colleagues at ABFE, A Philanthropic Partnership for Black Communities, and many others to support the Movement for Black Lives' demand to invest in Black communities.

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June 9, 2020 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

Three hundred African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, and Native American (ALAANA) theatremakers signed a letter —accompanied by a petition—demanding that "the white American theatre recognize its legacy of white fragility and white supremacy," Playbill reported.

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May 28, 2020 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

Recent research from Echoing Green and Bridgespan discusses "the racial disparity in today’s funding environment and argues that population-level impact cannot happen without funding more leaders of color."

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April 29, 2020 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

"Approaching your grantmaking with a racial justice lens is not just for times of crisis. By employing this lens at all times, funders can unlock long-term transformational impact and strengthen the community-wide infrastructure needed to foresee, respond to, and avert potential damages from crises like the COVID-19 pandemic."

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April 27, 2020 by admin

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

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April 16, 2020 by admin

Calandra Childers and Brian J. Carter

As you undoubtedly know, Seattle and King County were back in March the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. As of April 16, in Washington state there were 10,783 confirmed cases and 567 deaths (with 312 of those deaths in King County), according to data from Washington State Department of Health. We mourn those who have lost their lives, we pray for those fighting for their lives, and we stand in solidarity with our community as we struggle toward an uncertain future.

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March 14, 2020 by admin

This Podcast was recorded on January 27, 2020. The full transcript of this podcast is published below.
Explore the full GIA podcast.

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March 13, 2020 by admin

This Podcast was recorded on January 22, 2020. The full transcript of this podcast is published below.
Explore the full GIA podcast.

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March 9, 2020 by admin

“Every system is perfectly designed to get the result it gets.”
— W. Edwards Deming (possibly apocryphal)

Cultural equity is critical to the arts and culture sector’s long-term viability, as well as to the ability of the arts to contribute to healthy, vibrant, equitable communities for all. At the core of the challenges related to cultural equity are the historically inequitable distribution of resources and the value systems, biases, and systemic barriers associated with that distribution.

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February 28, 2020 by Sherylynn

Hi everyone! Sherylynn here, GIA’s program manager. I’m very excited to share a piece of my heart with you today via this blog post, in a Q&A format, on GIA’s first racial equity podcast series.

What exactly is the GIA RE Series and why now?

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