I am honored to have this opportunity to interview Gary Steuer, president and CEO of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation. Gary is a respected colleague, a member of Grantmakers in the Arts’ board of directors, and co-chair of the GIA Denver Conference Planning Committee for the upcoming annual conference. I am pleased to note that Bonfils-Stanton has been embracing equity in their support of Denver’s nonprofit community, including its arts organizations.
The GIA Library is an information hub that includes articles, research reports, and other materials covering a wide variety of topics relevant to the arts and arts funding. These resources are made available free to members and non-members of GIA. Users can search by keyword or browse by category for materials to use in research and self-directed learning. Current arts philanthropy news items are available separately in our news feed - News from the Field.
Consider downloading RE-Tool so you can follow along as you read this article. Many of the topics in this article refer directly to RE-Tool, including specific page references.
For the past decade, landmark research has begun proving what many creatives have long known: the arts have an equity problem. And it is widespread. Despite cultural phenomena like the hit Broadway musical Hamilton, asymmetries are ubiquitous in the production and consumption of the arts.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have become major topics of conversation in arts and culture within the past decade. Studies have shown that there is a marked lack of DEI in all areas of the sector, including audiences, artistic offerings, governing boards, professional staff, and financial support. Compounding this issue is the rapidly changing demographic makeup of the United States; it is estimated that by 2042, people of color will no longer be in the minority.
How does philanthropy stay accountable to the values we claim to espouse? Over the past seven years, ArtPlace America invested $87 million in supporting artists as allies in equitable community development. The National Creative Placemaking Fund (NCPF) funded 279 creative placemaking projects in 208 communities of all sizes across the United States. As that fund came to a close at the end of 2017, we decided to interrogate how effective we had been at aligning our values with our assumptions and philanthropic practice.
Successful cultural organizations masterfully manage contributed and earned income. This income mix can include corporate grants, endowment income, foundation grants, government grants, individual donations, membership fees, ticket sales, and unrelated business income (National Endowment for the Arts 2012). Although Alicia Schatteman and Ben Bingle (2017) have suggested that government funding is the most stable of these sources of income, foundations have played a significant role in the development of the US cultural sector (Renz 1994; Negley 2017).
Having worked with panels since my first job in philanthropy at the National Endowment for the Arts, thirty years ago, I am always interested in learning more about how to make the panel system better. Discussions about process, scoring systems, panel adjudication methods, conflict of interest, panel recruitment, multistep review processes, criteria, and more are infinitely fascinating to me and at the heart of improving our own work at the Jerome Foundation.
In February 2018, the portrait of former First Lady Michelle Obama was unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. Within this institution of power, a Greek Revival building lined with marble floors and white columns, images of presidents and other US leaders are captured in traditional oil paintings. In envisioning their own portraits, the Obamas made bold choices, which differed from most of their predecessors’ in the artists who were chosen to paint them and the styles in which they were portrayed.