Challenges to Solve and Values to Express

By Janet Brown from her blog Better Together:

Over the past few years, Grantmakers in the Arts has identified four content areas that reflect core values and are the basis for much of our work. They are:

  • Arts education
  • Racial equity in philanthropy
  • Financial health of the nonprofit arts sector (capitalization)
  • Support for individual artists

You can call these values, or focus areas, or interest areas, or goals but one thing is clear: they have all risen as areas of concern from our membership because they are issues that nonprofit arts groups, artists, and communities continue to struggle with after more than 40 years of formalized arts funding. They are challenges that need new solutions and more thoughtful and transparent conversations across the nonprofit sector and the funding world that supports it.

They also reflect greater societal issues for a nation in transition attempting to recognize root issues formed decades ago that are no longer acceptable and, in many cases, for which institutional complexities have muted clear pathways to success.

None of these areas of focus for us will be solved in a year or two or with a few programs bringing funders together to talk about them. They are also not “boutique issues” that we will abandon anytime soon because there might be something more interesting or trendy. These are core field issues that need continued diligence until they are no longer issues of concern for arts advocates, patrons, artists and arts administrators, teachers and community members.

These four focus areas do not mean this is all we’re doing. You’ll see from our conference sessions and other programmatic platforms that we continue to discuss a variety of interests of our members from international exchange to arts in healthcare and creative aging to technology solutions for nonprofits to artists working for social justice and more.

Our communication platforms of the Reader (our tri-annual journal), the annual conference, funder forums and workshops, web conferences, website with its news feed and library of research and articles, and our member bulletin and news feed blasts provide vehicles to share information and resources with all grantmakers.

The arts world is complex with several either/ors that have divided our sector for decades professional/amateur, product/process and so on. We become stronger as a sector and more relevant to our communities when we give up the either/or and replace it with AND. It is all important and worth fighting for. It all needs our attention, not just for a short while but over the long term until progress is made and solutions are found.