Steve's Blog

Posted on March 5, 2018 by Steve
GIA Reader Masthead

Published in the Winter 2018 edition of GIA Reader, the latest edition of GIA’s annual Arts Funding Snapshot will include “Foundation Grants to Arts and Culture, 2015,” based on the most recent completed year of Foundation Center data, and “Public Funding for the Arts, 2017,” prepared by the National Assembly of State Art Agencies (NASAA). Reina Mukai, research manager for the Foundation Center, and Ryan Stubbs, research director for NASAA, share their insight into what these findings reveal about the current arts grantmaking environment.

Posted on December 13, 2017 by Steve

In the latest issue of the GIA Reader, Claudia Bach discusses how artists and their estates make intentional, long-term, or sustained commitments to arts philanthropy, including artist-endowed funds and planned giving, and considers some of the challenges artists face in estate planning and management. Read “Virtuous Circles of Support: Artists Funding the Arts.”

Posted on November 29, 2017 by Steve

Tom Borrup writes about the disconnect between cultural planning and city planning and argues that integrating the two could be a key to equity in America’s cities. Read “Just Planning: Can Cultural Planning Help Build More Equitable Cities?

Posted on November 15, 2017 by Steve

Douglas McLennan of ArtsJournal recently sat down for a one-on-one interview with Janet Brown, reflecting on her tenure at GIA and some important issues for the field of arts philanthropy today. Read Janet’s insights on changes and challenges in the field, capitalization, funding models, racial equity, and arts participation in the latest issue of the GIA Reader.

Posted on November 9, 2017 by Steve

The latest issue of the GIA Reader includes an essay by Detroit writer and storyteller Marsha Music. “The Kidnapped Children of Detroit” tells the story of “white flight” in 1960’s Detroit and the racial dynamics that have shaped the city’s past and present. Marsha Music reflects on her personal experience as a Detroit native and offers a hopeful message as the city continues to change today.

Posted on October 31, 2017 by Steve

Lara Davis reports from day 2 of the 2017 GIA Conference:

Day 2. The scene: A passionate conversation with fellow conference attendees over breakfast. We are grateful for this time together to eat free food, consume coffee, hear from more local artist activists and cultural workers, and begin reflecting on some of the learning that defines our conference experiences over the last few days. We exchange information on sessions that have challenged us due to either an unwillingness to go deep enough, or their readiness to move us so profoundly that we’re already changed. The latter by far represents the collective experience of my table mate colleagues, and soon to be friends.

During the conversation, some key questions rise to the surface. We land on – what are you willing to risk for justice through your work and the philanthropic field? We stay here for some time. You see, we recognize that things like race and social positionality (i.e., where you rank in organizational hierarchy) have bearing on whether we act or remain inert. Formal power is always present in these spaces. So, are personal agency, and the potential for collective power.

In any case, this little question worm makes its way into my conscience like a red wiggler in a compost bin (which I assure you, is a good thing) and stays with me throughout the day’s journey.

Read the full post.

Posted on October 30, 2017 by Steve

Conference blogger Lara Davis reports on day 1 of the 2017 GIA Conference.

The Detroit Idea Lab, Though…

If you didn’t already know, the Idea Lab is hands down my favorite thing about GIA Conferences. (If there’s any doubt, just see my previous conference blog posts.) No shade to the sessions, which undoubtedly convene a stellar array of peoples and perspectives, creating space for needed critical learning and dialog. The morning blessing that is the Idea Lab, though, situates us all in an artist-centered, artist-led ecology.

So, Detroit artists are woke AF. But, you already knew. Home grown brilliance all around. And, they ain’t playing. Their call to action is like no other – as unique as the city that was home to revolutionary activist Grace Lee Boggs, and that spawned Motown and Techno music. This morning’s plenary ushered in the likes of Taylor Renee Aldridge whose work as a writer and curator exists in “direct response to the misnomers that do not consider Black people.” Accompanied by a masked drummer, Bryce Detroit brought a Detroit-style Afrocentric essence to the stage, speaking on “actualizing justice” as anathema to the idea of funders who parachute resources into a community without context, relationship or an understanding of a people’s readiness in the face persistent injustice. Jenny Lee, Allied Media Conference’s fearless leader, organizes through a confluence of arts/culture/community. I literally get chills when I watch AMC’s promo video including artists and organizers that are POC, indigenous, Muslim, intergenerational, intersectional… the list goes so beautifully on. Swoon!

Read the full post.

Posted on October 30, 2017 by Steve

Conference blogger Lara Davis reports on the 2017 GIA Preconference.

“Nothing about us without us is for us.”

This proverb, popularized by South African disability and youth activists, served as the introductory frame for the daylong precon, Racial Equity in Arts Philanthropy. These words were presented by facilitators as a challenge to the ways in which institutions may approach racial equity. (Think, colonialism. Think, the opposite of liberatory practices.) It set the tone outright for a conversation and exploration of racial inequity in art philanthropy that is at once structural and foundational to how a nation built upon racialized capitalism, i.e., genocide and slavery, operates.

So then, what is the real opportunity for racial equity within this context? The answer to that question is fundamentally rooted in both understanding the historic and persistent role arts philanthropy plays in maintaining racial inequity, and actively working to dismantle the racism rampant within and perpetrated by the field – by shifting power (money, resources, etc.) to ALAANA communities. A mouthful, I know. I’ll let these words by the wonderfully smart and funny Vu Le (Nonprofit AF) state it more succinctly.

Read the full post.

Posted on October 24, 2017 by Steve

In “Detroit Imagines Itself: Art of the Ex-industrial,” Detroit-based writer Sarah Rose Sharp offers a thoughtful overview of the history, strengths, and challenges of the city’s vibrant arts community.