ICYMI: Can Philanthropy Shape Equity in the Arts? 5 Questions to Consider When Making a Donation

"Artists are the free thinkers and the first movers of culture, and culture is the basis of belief and action. To support an artist’s idea—to help realize new work—is to set into motion a new worldview. This is the exciting role philanthropy can play in creating a freer, more sustainable, and equitable society, said Christine Kuan for artnet news. "Today, the narratives that shape our laws, policies, and daily life are disproportionately dominated by a subset of the population. From museums and the art market to Hollywood, the old story remains that only a small percentage of artists represented are women and artists of color. White men make up 30 percent of the U.S. population, but represent most museum acquisitions, art market sales, and Hollywood film directors. Yet, museums, auction houses, and cinemas are downstream from the primary issue, which is: Who gets funded to make art?"

"Here are five questions I think about in my work as a woman of color leading a fundraising organization that you may wish to consider in order to support a more diverse art world:

  • Does the nonprofit exhibit/collect/fund significant numbers of women, BIPOC artists, LGBTQIA+ artists, and artists with disabilities?
  • Does the nonprofit have a multi-year track record of supporting diverse artists?
  • Does the grant maker have an open process of selecting artists, or what is the process of grantmaking?
  • Does a high percentage of your donation go to artists’ programs, rather than administration/development?
  • Does the nonprofit have diverse individuals at every level of the organization?

"Each year, Creative Capital fundraises every dollar we give away to artists. This year, 83 percent of every dollar was spent on artists’ grants and programs. Consider making a gift to artist-centered nonprofits that are doing this important, grassroots work."

"The unique power of the arts is to enable us to think, experience, and feel differently. Philanthropy can be a catalyzing force for change without instrumentalizing artists to do the work of correcting systemic wrongs. Philanthropy can play a more transcendent role. To truly foster an equitable arts ecosystem, we must empower artists to make the work that artists dream of making."

Read the full article here.