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.

February 8, 2021 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

''Philanthropy needs to widen its barriers of entry to include, promote, and recognize more members of our society,'' said Samra Ghermay, client engagement manager, Wingo NYC Fundraising Studio, in a recent article.

January 28, 2021 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

In a recent email, Borealis Philanthropy reflects on the first three years of the Racial Equity in Philanthropy (REP) Fund, 2020 learnings, and how their commitment to "racial equity values and practice shows up beyond the job."

January 15, 2021 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

The inaugural issue of the Nonprofit Wakanda Quarterly, a quarterly publication that seeks to "provide space for Black nonprofit leaders to flex their intellectual muscles in a way that will truly move the sector forward," according to George Suttles, one of the drivers of this publication, is out.

January 15, 2021 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

In an open letter, the BIPOC Executive Directors Coalition of Washington State urge funders to "double the amount of funding you release to nonprofits and ensure the additional funds are going to organizations led by and serving Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color."

January 4, 2021 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

"The failure of trust sits at the intersection of two live debates in philanthropy. First, foundations are being called to give more to communities of color. Second, they are also being called to give capital that shows trust: long-term general operating support (GOS)," writes Jacob Harold, executive vice president of Candid.

January 4, 2021 by Nadia Elokdah

“The only way to achieve equity is to expose how white privilege exists from top to bottom in many…cultural institutions, making it nearly impossible for artists of color to tell their stories on their own terms,” writes Salamishah Tillet, in The New York Times. “Fortunately,” Tillet continues, “Black artists are not waiting around for change to happen, slowly or suddenly.”

December 3, 2020 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

Marcus Walton, CEO of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO), tackles leading while Black, as part of Nonprofit Quarterly's series lifting up Black male voices "to highlight the challenges Black male leaders in the nonprofit sector face, as well as the sector as a whole—amid ongoing anti-Black violence and the disparate racial impact of COVID-19."

November 10, 2020 by Tram Nguyen

This session shared findings from a partnership between GIA and the Cultural Strategies Council and the National Accelerator for Cultural Innovation to explore how non-arts funders can transform their practice to advance racial justice via cultural expression and the arts.

As another systems practitioner aspiring to transformational systems change (from the public health sector and local government), I greatly appreciated and enjoyed the breadth and sharpness of this panel’s expertise and analysis. First was the reminder by Kiley Arroyo of the Cultural Strategies Council that transformational change involves engaging multiple levers at once—at the foundational level, that of “deep culture” or paradigm change. What happens when we start by decentering the Western, settler colonial, extractive worldview? What happens when we start with a different story?

October 27, 2020 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

In "The Quantum Nature of Black Revolutionary Theatre" part of Black Theatre Commons' A Call for Revolutionary Theatre 2020 series, Sage Crump discusses how quantum ideas "evident in nature and how our communities organize outside of government control, can support honing the practice of Black Revolutionary Theatre."

October 27, 2020 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

A recent report describes tools that cultural districts can use to spur investment and create new revenue streams while protecting the local character and neighborhood identity.