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.

July 11, 2022 by Jaime Sharp

"Nonprofit organizations pledge to serve communities through powerful missions. Often, those missions are around empowerment, restoration, safety, and wholeness for the marginalized within our communities. The past two years of racial reckoning has led the nonprofit sector to examine the ways in which white supremacy lives in our organizational systems," said Nonprofit Quarterly author Sequoia Owen. "Increasingly, nonprofits are publicly showing support for Black causes—at times, to distance themselves from the appearance of condoning racism. Operating as pro-Black, however, involves much more than releasing a statement of support for Black and Brown lives. It may not even require a change in organizational mission or new programming—an organization can make such changes and still operate with a white supremacist structure."

July 7, 2022 by Jaime Sharp

"Here we go again. It’s a year later and we’re back where we started," said author and Founding Director of Women of Color in the Arts Kaisha Johnson. "It’s so disheartening, although not surprising, to see historically and predominantly white arts organizations and cultural institutions pulling out all the stops (and red flags) to acknowledge Juneteenth this year. After all the hollow statements of solidarity — which I expressed as extremely problematic in a Medium article last year, I find myself in the same space — giving a metaphorical and literal side eye to our sector."

May 27, 2022 by Jaime Sharp

The Wallace Foundation has released a new report that, "suggests that Black communities most value arts experiences that celebrate their creativity, support self-care, earn their trust and foster a sense of belonging."

May 17, 2022 by Jaime Sharp

"Last week, we were reeling from the Supreme Court’s leaked decision to overturn Roe vs Wade. People will die, especially Black, Indigenous, Latine, Asians, and NH/PI, and low-income people, because safe abortions will still remain accessible to higher-income mostly White people," said author Vu Le.

May 9, 2022 by Jaime Sharp

The Mellon Foundation has partnered with Centro de Economía Creativa for, "a newly launched $8 million cultural employment initiative created to facilitate stable employment opportunities for artists while strengthening the administrative bandwidth of community-based cultural organizations across Puerto Rico."

May 2, 2022 by Jaime Sharp

The Human Rights Funders Network hosts an Introduction to Social Justice Investing on May 10 at 10am PT/1PM EDT.

April 11, 2022 by Jaime Sharp

From the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation:

In the first episode of a three-part podcast series by Grantmakers in the Arts, DDCF Program Director for the Arts Maurine Knighton spoke about the impetus behind the Racial Equity Coding Project, which aims to gather data around racial equity funding practices to illustrate a more nuanced and accurate accounting of grantmaking efforts to advance racial equity. The Equity Coding Project began with a culmination of research led by DDCF with Callahan Consulting for the Arts and provides funders with an opportunity to examine and refine their own coding practices, as well as to adopt new data collection practices for the future.

April 11, 2022 by Jaime Sharp

Dr. Manuel Pastor was the featured guest on the Bioneers’ podcast episode Building the Solidarity Economy: Awakening to Our Mutuality and Shifting the Terrain of Power. The distinguished Professor discussed, “how shocks to the system are precipitating a great awakening and growing movements to transform the economy to our economy.”

March 25, 2022 by Nadia Elokdah

“The very essence of philanthropy is to not accept the world as it is, but to demand and work toward the world as it should be. Too often, though, philanthropy fails to achieve this goal and ends up as a mirror of what is happening in society rather than as a prism previewing a better future,” state Anne Price and Jhumpa Bhattacharya in Non Profit Quarterly.