Member Spotlight on Surdna Foundation

For the month of July, GIA's photo banner features the recipients of The Surdna Foundation's Artists Engaged in Social Change awards and their work. Founded in 1917 by John Emory Andrus, the Foundation seeks to foster sustainable communities in the US that are guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, strong local economies, and thriving cultures. It supports arts and cultural projects through its Thriving Cultures grantmaking program which is based on a belief that communities with robust arts and culture are more cohesive and prosperous, and benefit from the diversity of their residents. Surdna believes that artists and cultural organizations can help explore shared values and spark innovation, imagination and advancement for communities.

In early June, the Surdna Foundation announced the recipients of its Artists Engaged in Social Change grant awards. The grants are designed to support individual artists, culture bearers, and nonprofits whose work is embedded in community and helps to inform, engage, or challenge people around specific social issues. Fifteen project grants were awarded from more than 1,000 applications received in response to a national request for proposals. Projects receiving funds were selected for the quality of the artistic practice and for the dedication to exploring critical themes that arise from, or impact a community; and finally, for the project’s capacity to enable social change. The grants enable artists and culture-bearers to work with their organizational partners to support community processes, and to create and disseminate new work.

From Surdna's press release, Judilee Reed, director of its Thriving Cultures program shares:

The proposals have helped us to understand the expanding definition of American culture and identity in very different ways. We learned how artists are addressing issues ranging from immigration to criminal justice to economic equality and practically everything in between. And through their creative practice, we as a society are finding pathways of empathy and understanding, and subsequently are emboldened to action, each on our own terms.

The two-year awards, ranging from $57,000 to $157,000 and totaling $1,345,000, support artists and culture-bearers working in places from Haines, Alaska and Brooklyn, New York to La Conner, Washington and Long Beach, California. These projects are addressing contemporary issues including incarceration, cultural heritage, and immigration, among many others. In addition to the diverse geographic, ethnic, cultural, and gender communities addressed by the artists’ projects, awardees’ work spans a broad range of artistic activity, aesthetics, genres, and artistic disciplines.

The Surdna Foundation has been a GIA member since 1997.

Learn more about The Surdna Foundation and its Thriving Cultures grant program.

Photo in post: David Weissman's "Conversation with Gay Elders."

You can also visit the photo gallery on our Photo Credits page.