2019 Grantmakers in the Arts Conference

Welcome to the GIA 2019 Conference Blog! Grantmakers in the Arts is pleased to have two bloggers covering the 2019 Conference in Denver. Ray Rinaldi and Bree Davies will be posting their comments and reactions beginning Sunday, October 13. We hope you check here for their observations.

October 17, 2019 by Bree Davies
Affordable housing for artists. This topic is a hard one for me. I’m too invested. I know too much. I have had too many people close to me lose their housing and simultaneously, lose the place where they create art. For one of my friends, when he lost his home and his space to create art, he not long after, lost his life. Colin Ward, a fixture of Denver’s Do-It-Yourself arts community, died by suicide on February 1st, 2018, fourteen months after he was evicted from his home, the internationally-recognized art space, Rhinoceropolis. After the surprise eviction, Colin’s life was never the same; many of us close to him saw a direct connection between his displacement and his death. Read More...
October 16, 2019 by Ray Rinaldi
The Black Art Futures Fund was a topic of great curiosity at the 2019 GIA conference, if only because it seemed to the GIA crowd that founder DéLana R.A. Dameron is on to something new with her start-up funding effort. And so the session titled Our Beloved Community: Collaborative grantmaking, which formally introduced the project to attendees drew an eager audience, even though it started at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning. The room was packed.Read More...
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.Read More...
October 15, 2019 by Bree Davies
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. Read More...
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.Read More...
October 15, 2019 by Bree Davies
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. Read More...
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.Read More...
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. Read More...
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.Read More...
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.Read More...