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.

January 27, 2020 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

As part of a series of public talks, The New York Review of Books and David Zwirner Books held in September a discussion about the role of power within the cultural sphere.

January 17, 2020 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and Rutgers Institute for Ethical Leadership recently launched The Nonprofit Professionals of Color Collective, a monthly leadership series.

January 14, 2020 by admin

This Podcast was recorded on January 3, 2020. The full transcript of this podcast is published below.
Explore the full GIA podcast.

January 6, 2020 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

In a video series "Further Together: Helping artists thrive," the Kenneth Rainin Foundation moves forward equity conversations for a better philanthropic field as it asked its leaders to look to the future.

December 19, 2019 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

Reflecting on Darren Walker's new book, “From Generosity to Justice: a New Gospel of Wealth,” Elizabeth Alexander, president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, answered some questions posed by the Chronicle of Philanthropy that shed light on the philanthropic field.

December 16, 2019 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

Americans for the Arts announced Diving into Racial Equity: The MAP Fund’s Exploration, a case study that delves into the MAP Fund's racial equity in arts and culture grantmaking, its efforts to change practices toward this goal, and how it has activated the framework "Aesthetic Perspectives", to help mitigate bias in proposal review.

December 9, 2019 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

Media companies, both legacy and new ones, "still don’t accurately reflect the reality of this country amid our shifting demographics," writes Farai Chideya, program officer in the Creativity and Expressions team at the Ford Foundation, in a recent article.

November 18, 2019 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

In its 80 year history, Guggenheim Museum has named Ashley James as its first black curator to work at the museum full-time, ArtNews reported.

November 13, 2019 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

A couple of days ago, men and women marched 26 miles through New Orleans, dressed as participants from a slave rebellion that happened there two centuries ago, as The Guardian and The New York Times reported. The re-enactment, led by New York artist Dread Scott, retraced the route of one of the largest -and overlooked- slave rebellions in US history: the 1811 German Coast Uprising, in which 500 enslaved people of African descent marched toward New Orleans from the surrounding sugar plantations.

November 4, 2019 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

Ben Hecht, president & CEO of Living Cities, a collective of 19 of the world’s wealthiest philanthropic and financial institutions, writes in The Chronicle of Philanthropy of their journey "to embed racial equity in our culture, which means becoming more accountable to the communities we serve and addressing the root causes of inequality."