After Retiring from the Hewlett Foundation, John McGuirk Discusses Arts Philanthropy

John E. McGuirk, the recently retired director of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation’s Performing Arts Program, discusses arts philanthropy nowadays and where it is headed in an interview with Barry Hessenius, author of the nonprofit arts Barry’s Blog. “I believe the most significant change in arts philanthropy I’ve seen over the past two decades is the growing importance of cultural equity in grantmaking. This has its roots as far back as ‘multi-culturalism’ in the 1980s when I first entered the field. Racial equity is a more recent priority at the national level as articulated by Grantmakers in the Arts,” said McGuirk.

Hessenius asks McGuirk for illustrative examples of what can be done within arts philanthropy to address inequities in funding across the US. Last year, an in-depth report from Helicon Collaborative showed that since an initial study in 2011, “funding overall has gotten less equitable.” According to McGuirk, diversification of grant portfolios takes sustained efforts to achieve.

“Grantmakers need to be cognizant of historical funding patterns and structural racism that have led to current disparities in arts funding, and persistently address these as individuals, organizations, and communities. We need to continue to adapt our funding priorities, application processes, and selection criteria to ensure a broad and diverse applicant pool and grantee portfolio,” explained McGuirk, who completed his term as program director last November.

Emiko Ono succeeds McGuirk as program director of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation’s Performing Arts Program.

Read the full interview in Barry's Blog.