Racial Equity

Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) is committed to addressing structural inequities and increasing philanthropic and government support for BIPOC 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 Funding 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 through their grantmaking practices as part of an effort for racial justice as a means toward justice for all.

GIA believes that all oppressed groups should benefit from funding. We give primacy to race because racism is the means by which oppressed groups are manipulated into opposing programs that assist them. Therefore, Grantmakers in the Arts’ equity work – including our discussions of support for trans artists, artists with disabilities and for disability arts – is NOT race-exclusive but IS race-explicit. GIA’s vision for the future of our work is to increasingly reveal how the liberation of all oppressed people is interdependent.

GIA has made a strategic decision to foreground racial equity in our work for several reasons:

  • Within other oppressed peoples’ communities (including women, members of the lgbtqi community, people with disabilities, and others), it has been well-documented that people of color still face the worst social outcomes.
  • GIA feels that others’ strategies of combining considerations of race with other considerations too often result in racialized people being pushed into the background or ignored.
  • The U.S.’ creation of race was established to keep oppressed peoples separate.

Unless we articulate our support for racialized peoples, while calling out this separation strategy, we inadvertently reinforce this separation strategy.

Specific themes of our racial equity programming include:

  • The analysis of how funding practices create structural challenges for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color)/ALAANA (African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, Native-American) organizations (Eurocentric quality standards, matching requirements, among others).
  • The impact of these practices, as manifest in racialized disparities in levels of funding.
  • An exploration of the use of coded language to justify racial inequity (i.e. referring to white audiences as “general” or “mainstream,” while organizations of color are “culturally-specific.”

When it comes to self-identifying language, GIA seeks to use terms that communicate our respect. We do not seek to impose language on members of any group. We respect the manner in which anyone prefers to self-identify.When referring to issues of racial equity, “we use the term BIPOC to highlight the unique relationship to whiteness that Indigenous and Black people have, which shapes the experiences of and relationship to white supremacy for all people of color within a U.S. context.” We take this explanation and practice from the BIPOC Project.

GIA has also used the racial and ethnic identifiers African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, and Native American. We have used African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, Native American – represented using the acronym ALAANA – because we know that many 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.

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

GIA is committed to communicating respectfully. GIA does not ask that anyone self-identify with or use any term other than ones they prefer.

April 11, 2022 by Jaime Sharp

From the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation:

In the first episode of a three-part podcast series by Grantmakers in the Arts, DDCF Program Director for the Arts Maurine Knighton spoke about the impetus behind the Racial Equity Coding Project, which aims to gather data around racial equity funding practices to illustrate a more nuanced and accurate accounting of grantmaking efforts to advance racial equity. The Equity Coding Project began with a culmination of research led by DDCF with Callahan Consulting for the Arts and provides funders with an opportunity to examine and refine their own coding practices, as well as to adopt new data collection practices for the future.

April 11, 2022 by Jaime Sharp

Dr. Manuel Pastor was the featured guest on the Bioneers’ podcast episode Building the Solidarity Economy: Awakening to Our Mutuality and Shifting the Terrain of Power. The distinguished Professor discussed, “how shocks to the system are precipitating a great awakening and growing movements to transform the economy to our economy.”

March 25, 2022 by Nadia Elokdah

“The very essence of philanthropy is to not accept the world as it is, but to demand and work toward the world as it should be. Too often, though, philanthropy fails to achieve this goal and ends up as a mirror of what is happening in society rather than as a prism previewing a better future,” state Anne Price and Jhumpa Bhattacharya in Non Profit Quarterly.

March 24, 2022 by Nadia Elokdah

“Although major cultural institutions, businesses and organizations have made renewed commitments to supporting arts organizations led by BIPOC leaders since 2020, Black-owned art galleries and collections have long played a central role in diversifying the art market and acquiring artwork of artists from underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds,” purports Sabrina Greig in NewCity Art.

March 22, 2022 by Nadia Elokdah

“We offer our story as one example (amongst many) of what it can look like to answer the call to fund racial justice. Five years ago, we at the Pink House Foundation (PHF)—a small family foundation based in Washington, D.C.—set out to explore what it could look like to redefine philanthropy with justice at the center,” report Hanna Mahon and Luke Newton Newton in Inside Philanthropy.

March 18, 2022 by Nadia Elokdah

“Everyone in philanthropy can potentially play a role in supporting transformative racial justice work," remarks Lori Villarosa, founder and executive director, Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity (PRE) in a piece for PEAK Grantmaking blog. "But to unlock that potential, each person needs to apply racial equity and racial justice lenses to all aspects of their work. And grants professionals can be a driving force by both shifting practice and ensuring that the organization is impactfully looking at its work through both lenses.”

March 17, 2022 by Nadia Elokdah

"Grants management professionals are strategically positioned to influence a funder’s racial equity and racial justice funding. But in three decades of working in and with foundations, I have consistently seen a pattern where people serving in these roles are excluded from these conversations as a matter of institutional habit," writes Lori Villarosa, founder and executive director, Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity (PRE), in PEAK Grantmaking Journal, issue 19. "As a result, there is a lack of understanding across the field about how the work of grants management directly relates to advancing racial equity and justice."

March 15, 2022 by Nadia Elokdah

Media Impact Funders (MIF) share a glimpse of their time at Sundance Film Festival with a Film Funders Follow-up. In this conversation with Vincent Stehle, MIF executive director, Sonya Childress and Sahar Driver, Color Congress, and Denae Peters, Perspective Fund, participants discuss a new field-building organization called the Color Congress.

March 4, 2022 by Nadia Elokdah

"Chicago’s creative vitality is worth celebrating, but we must acknowledge that support for the arts and culture sector has not been distributed equitably across the city’s geographies or populations. With this in mind, in 2019 MacArthur announced a new approach called Culture, Equity, and the Arts (CEA), through which we directly support organizations with annual budgets of $2 million and above," Geoffrey Banks, senior program officer, Chicago Commitment, shares a new, more equity-centered approach for our funding to small and medium sized arts and culture organizations.