GIA Blog

Posted on October 16, 2019 by Ray Rinaldi

It takes some courage to come to a conference of funders and tell them what they do wrong. In no uncertain terms. Especially if you are an organization that could use their money.

But there was a lot of that at the Tuesday morning panel titled: “Expressions for Justice: Grantmaking in the arts for systems change.” The exchange was open, and maybe the most direct of the entire GIA conference.

Posted on October 15, 2019 by Bree Davies

Image: Tres Fridas, by Reveca Torres

Last year, Denver celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Gang of 19's radical act of claiming space, demanding basic human rights, and calling for the right to ride. In 1978, 19 disabled community-activists put their bodies on the line and in the streets, stopping city bus service at Colfax and Broadway with their bodies for two days until RTD (Denver's Regional Transportation District) committed to making public transit accessible. The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) wouldn't be signed into law until 1990.

Posted on October 15, 2019 by Ray Rinaldi

A lot of the offerings from the session titled “Action Steps Toward Intersectional Trans Equity” were what you’d expect. Some lessons in vocabulary. An intro to the trans performing arts scene (or at least a small portion of it) and some serious and concrete recommendations for welcoming trans artists and others into your non-trans world.

All of that good advice remains radical material to many in the world outside of GIA, but there was nothing shocking or hard to consume for folks privileged to live in the arts/funding/philanthropic/woke world.

Posted on October 15, 2019 by Bree Davies

Image: Las Imaginistas

Las Imaginistas is the kind of collective I dream of — rooted in community, non-hierarchical, daring in the challenges it is willing to take on for the greater good of community. At Sunday’s preconference panel, ArtPlace America’s Arts and Immigration Field Scan, Christina Patiño Sukhgian Houle, co-founder of Las Imaginistas, brought us into the future-world she helped the border community of Brownsville, Texas, dream into reality. She outlined the two-year, ArtPlace-funded project in Brownsville in three phases: Permission to Dream, Permission to Know and Permission to Act.

Posted on October 14, 2019 by Ray Rinaldi

This conference is best when it gets past the platitudes of large group sessions and gets down to the business of small panel discussions. That’s when people have a real chance to share success stories — and the strategy behind them. That’s when it gets interesting.

That evolution happened for me on day two of the GIA conference, and in an unexpected place, the session titled “The Arts & Mental Wellbeing: Prototypes & partnerships in K-12 public education.”

Posted on October 14, 2019 by Bree Davies

In the underground or Do-It-Yourself/DIY realm of the arts community I came up in, the idea of a “safe space” has always been the ultimate desire, though hardly ever the resulting outcome. In the dozens of DIY art spaces I’ve organized in and performed and witnessed art in, the desire for a place that is all ages/all humans welcome, is physically and economically accessible, and is a space free from harassment and intimidation (a whole concept I will refer to from here on as a “total autonomous zone”) was the end goal. The creation of a total autonomous zone was, ideally, the creation of “safe space.” But in Denver in 2019, like many cities our size, we’re experiencing change from many angles, from our built environments being completely torn down and discarded, to our own personal, semi-private surroundings/housing situations/gathering places/art spaces evaporating right out from under our feet; the whims of the real estate market and the people with the money and ownership of the land become the ultimate determinants of who gets to hold onto any semblance of a “safe space,” whether that is an affordable art space or a home.

Posted on October 13, 2019 by Ray Rinaldi

One of my favorite presenters was DéLana R.A. Dameron, founder of the fledgling Black Art Futures Fund. Here she was, speaking on a panel in front of people who represent philanthropic and government funding agencies that give out hundreds of thousands (or millions) of dollars a year, talking about her tiny organization as if it was just as important as all the rest. And she quickly cleared any doubt about that from the room.

Posted on October 13, 2019 by Ray Rinaldi

At this GIA conference, the microphone isn’t just a tool for being heard, it’s a social justice issue.

The rules of engagement, sent out in advance, names the use of a microphone as a way of helping folks with disabilities participate in the event. It’s right up there with recognizing other points of view, not over talking, and giving props to the native people whose lands the meeting is taking place upon. To not use the microphone, then, is to exclude, to discriminate, to be rude.

Posted on October 13, 2019 by Ray Rinaldi

There are more people of color here than people of the usual colors. It’s amazing and, to an outsider, unexpected. So many women, so many shades of skin. LGBT folks. Younger and older. It’s the dream, right? Real-time diversity. And the talk about race and funding is surprisingly and admirably direct.

Posted on October 13, 2019 by Ray Rinaldi

There was a lot of polite talk among the assembled arts funding professionals about how to build equity into giving. But the artists you invited to join you at this conference, they cut to the chase.

The Denver-based, spoken-word artist Molina Speaks, laid out so clearly just what the responsibility is for funders as he delivered a bit of his “live scribe poetry” to the crowd assembled in the Sheraton Hotel meeting room.

In no uncertain terms, he called upon funders to stop talking and give away all that money they’re sitting on. Just shut up. Give it away.