Racial Equity

Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) is committed to addressing structural inequities and increasing philanthropic and government support for African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, and Native American (ALAANA) artists and arts organizations. Racial equity is a lens through which GIA aims to conduct all of its work, as well as a specific area of its programming.

Since 2008, GIA has been elevating racial equity as a critical issue affecting the field. To actualize this work within the sector, GIA published its Racial Equity in Arts Philanthropy Statement of Purpose in 2015. Through webinars, articles, convenings, and conference sessions, GIA provides training and information to support arts funders in addressing historic and structural inequity.

An historical outline of GIA’s recent work in equity is available online, including GIA Reader articles, blog posts, and YouTube videos from past conference keynote sessions.

When referring to issues of racial equity, GIA uses the racial and ethnic identifiers African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, and Native American. GIA does not ask that anyone self-identify with or use any term other than ones they prefer. We use African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, Native American – represented using the acronym ALAANA – because we believe the term, “people of color,” conflates together entire groups of people and as a contrast to white. This results in a continued centering of whiteness as the norm and the standard from which other identities deviate.

Similarly, GIA does not refer to organizations that are founded by, led by, and feature the work of ALAANA communities as “culturally-specific,” as we believe this term also centers whiteness as the norm from which other organizations deviate.

The term “ALANA” emerged from institutions of higher learning. Dr. Donald Brown, director of the Office of AHANA Student Programs at Boston College, developed the acronym which now is used at over 50 colleges and universities including Brown, Vassar, and Colgate.

”The term AHANA [ALANA] is not degrading, inaccurate, or stereotypical,” stated several undergraduate students to the Boston College Board of Trustees in 1978. “It is creative, unique, and symbolic of pride. AHANA [ALANA] was not developed to segregate its members from the remainder of the Campus community. It was developed to unite its members for the good of all and to inspire cultural awareness and destroy the void among students of different racial backgrounds. We do not want to feel ‘minor’,” The students argued that “minority” was an offensive and unacceptable term when applied to people of color.

At Canisius College, with the substitution of "Latino/a" for Hispanic, AHANA became ALANA. This change resulted from the fact that many people consider themselves Latinx rather than Hispanic. In the 2000s, GIA added a fourth “A” to include Arab Americans.

Our hope is that the terminology African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, and Native American (ALAANA) is received as naming and honoring every racialized group in the U.S. GIA recognizes that no terms are perfect. We do not seek to impose language on members of any group and respect the manner in which anyone prefers to self-identify.

February 14, 2018 by admin
The arts and culture sector continues to have conversations on multiple levels about how to advance the causes of equity, inclusion, and diversity. The discussion is not new, but the momentum toward implementing clear action steps is building. A new level of understanding of the ways in which racial and social inequities are the result of complex systemic issues has given rise to a realization that the path to truly effective solutions will require deep, and deeply challenging, institutional change.Read More...
February 14, 2018 by admin
Social movements need the arts. Should we ask tougher questions to optimize their influence? Creative voices, widely and rightfully credited as moving “hearts and mind,” are increasingly understood as playing a core role in speaking to, supporting, or even triggering broader social change. Talented storytellers are disrupting the status quo, fostering new connections, challenging dominant narratives, sharing bold visions for equitable and joyful futures, and creating vehicles for action.Read More...
December 6, 2017 by Monica
The National Trust for Historic Preservation, in partnership with the Ford Foundation, The JPB Foundation, and the Open Society Foundations, have announced the launch of the African-American Cultural Heritage Action Fund (AACHAF). The multi-year national initiative is aimed at uplifting the largely overlooked contributions of African-Americans by establishing a grant fund for the protection and restoration of African-American historical sites. From the protection of Shockoe Bottom in Richmond to Fort Huachuca Black Officer’s Club in Arizona, the fund will help to support direct action needed to protect threatened sites of historic significance, address critical funding gaps for the preservation of African-American historic sites, and help uncover hidden stories of African-Americans connected to historic sites across the nation.Read More...
November 29, 2017 by Monica

The Walton Family Foundation and Ford Foundation announced they are each committing $3 million over three years to support creative solutions to diversify curatorial and management staff at art museums across the United States.

November 15, 2017 by Monica

The Art for Justice Fund, launched earlier this year with a $100 million donation from philanthropist Agnes Gund, today announced the first round of grant recipients in the areas of criminal justice reform and the arts. With awards ranging from $100,000 to $7.5 million, a total of $22 million was awarded to 30 innovative programs that seek to safely reduce prison populations, strengthen education and employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated people, and humanize people affected by the criminal justice system.

November 7, 2017 by Monica

Members of the Racial Equity Funders Collaborative in Minnesota recently shared a letter on issues of racial inequity affecting the arts community and how they are working to address them:

We know that ultimately, to advance racial and cultural equity, we must remove barriers in our grantmaking policies and practices and change the distribution of resources. Changing this system will require new ideas and actions. At a minimum, our grantees and partners should expect our giving to reflect the demographics of our community. We are identifying our next steps for advancing this work.

Amidst historical and ongoing wrongs and errors, we are learning how to be more inclusive, equitable, and accountable. We are changing how we work.

November 6, 2017 by admin
These remarks were presented by Rip Rapson, president, The Kresge Foundation, to the closing plenary of the 2017 GIA Conference in Detroit, Michigan, on October 31, 2017. Thank you, Eddie, for such a gracious introduction. Read More...
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. Read More...
October 12, 2017 by admin
This June, while facing a proposed 2018 budget just large enough to sunset the agency, National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu began a keynote address at the 2017 Americans for the Arts conference with a simple but timely question, “What if access to the arts was a human right?” Read More...
October 10, 2017 by Monica

A recent article from Createquity examines and challenges the common juxtaposition of terms like “mainstream” and “culturally specific” in reference to arts organizations and art forms: