Steve's Blog

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.

Posted on September 27, 2017 by Steve

New on the GIA Podcast, we speak with 2017 GIA Conference committee chair Regina Smith of The Kresge Foundation and committee member and Detroit native Sharnita Johnson of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. They share about you may not already know about the Motor City, what to expect when visiting the city, and what they are excited about for the upcoming conference.

Posted on August 24, 2017 by Steve

In the latest issue of the GIA Reader, Stan Hutton of the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation writes about the recent formation of the Arts Education Impact Group organized by Grantmakers for Education (GFE). Hutton notes that there is growing interest in arts education among GFE conference attendees, and that the newly formed group will promote understanding among GFE members about the benefits of a quality arts education. Read “Grantmakers for Education Forms Arts Education Impact Group.”

Posted on August 16, 2017 by Steve

Kiley Arroyo, executive director of the Cultural Strategies Council, writes on how the strategies and policy-level systems change can create a better, more sustainable environment for creative placemaking efforts to take hold. Read “Creative Democracy: Applying the Lessons of Creative Placemaking to Policymaking” from the latest issue of the GIA Reader.