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.

June 30, 2006 by giarts-ts-admin

A few years ago, Laura Penn, managing director of Intiman Theatre in Seattle, met me for coffee at the Saint Francis Hotel. I was between sessions of the Independent Sector's (IS) national conference in San Francisco. Laura had never heard of IS and was curious about it. The Independent Sector is a coalition of corporations, foundations, and private voluntary organizations that works to strengthen nonprofit organizations and is committed to advancing the common good in the U.S.

July 31, 2005 by giarts-ts-admin

2005, 136 pages, ISBN 0-9514763-6-X. Centre for Creative Communities, 118 Commercial Street, London, E1 6NF, UK, 44-(0)-20-7247-5385, www.creativecommunities.org.uk

July 31, 2005 by giarts-ts-admin

2004, 20 pages, with accompanying DVD. La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94750, 510-849-2568, www.lapena.org

July 31, 2005 by giarts-ts-admin

Lawrence Lessig sees Big Media waging war against culture in America. And he, for one, is fighting the battle. A professor at Stanford Law School, Lessig achieved notoriety when he represented web site operator Eric Eldred in the ground-breaking case Eldred v. Ashcroft, a challenge to the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. Eric Eldred was a man who wanted to build a library of derivative versions of public domain books (e.g., Hawthorne's A Scarlet Letter) and make them available for free on the Internet.

September 30, 2004 by giarts-ts-admin

Alternate ROOTS is a coalition of artists and cultural workers in the Southeastern USA; addressing racism and other oppressions has been integral to our mission for a long time. At our 2004 Annual Meeting this past August a panel of ROOTS' founding members discussed the function of ROOTS as a cultural continuation of the civil rights movement - beginning with our founding at the legendary Highlander Center in New Market, Tennessee.

October 31, 2003 by giarts-ts-admin

216 pages, published 2001. Available through SAGE Publications Ltd, 6 Bonhill Street, London, EC2A 4PU, UK +44 (0)20 7374 0645

October 31, 2003 by giarts-ts-admin
Some things are very dear to me —
Such thing as flowers bathed by rain
Or patterns traced upon the sea
Or crocuses where snow has lain . . . .
The iridescence of a gem,
The moon's cool opalescent light,
Azaleas and the scent of them,
And honeysuckles in the night.

— African American poet Gwendolyn Bennett, “Sonnet II” 1

July 31, 2003 by giarts-ts-admin

November 9, 2002, on the occasion of receiving the Utah Governor's Award in the Humanities

June 30, 2002 by giarts-ts-admin

April 17-21, 2002, Lexington, Kentucky

• A bilingual play brings together migrant workers and immigrant rights activists in a pointed comedy portraying communications and miscommunications among Anglos and Spanish-speaking peoples living in and working in one community today.

• An African American theater company performs a rollicking — but serious — romp through the cultural changes from Motown to hip-hop, from soul food to vegan, from post-60s to post-modern America.

April 30, 2002 by giarts-ts-admin

Last October I attended my first "Social Theory, Politics and the Arts" conference, speaking on a panel with playwright Brian Freeman, writer Karen Clark, and puppeteer/actor Jonathan Youtt to offer reflections from artists at the conference's culmination. The gathering's international scope was refreshing and eye-opening.