New Initiative Will Grant $156 Million to Arts Groups Run by People of Color

Some of the nation’s most prominent philanthropists and foundations announced plans on Thursday to donate more than $156 million to help...


Some of the nation’s most prominent philanthropists and foundations announced plans on Thursday to donate more than $156 million to help arts organizations run by people of color recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

The initiative, called America’s Cultural Treasures, includes national and regional components and was conceived by Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, and those who work for the foundation’s Creativity and Free Expression program.

It is meant to bring greater resources and recognition to what the foundation described as “Black, Latinx, Asian and Indigenous” organizations representing the heritage of people who “have been historically marginalized, underfunded and underrepresented in the narrative of American culture.”

News of the initiative was first reported by The Washington Post.

The national component includes $50 million from the Ford Foundation and additional money from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Abrams Foundation, the Alice L. Walton Foundation, Barbara and Amos Hostetter, and Tom and Lisa Blumenthal. It will provide $81 million in operational and general support funds to 20 organizations that are “significant national anchors for artistic and cultural diversity in America,” the Ford Foundation said.

National grants will range from $1 million to $6 million each. Recipients include the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage; the Apollo Theater in New York City; the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Mich.; the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles; and the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago.

“These organizations represent the very highest ideals of artistic excellence and are truly America’s cultural treasures,” Mr. Walker said in a statement. “We hope that other arts philanthropists and corporations will join in increasing support to the many cultural organizations that reflect our nation’s rich and diverse history.”

Cultural institutions across the country have suffered as a result of the pandemic, with some of the biggest and best known dismissing employees and slashing programming as revenue has plummeted. Economists and fund-raising experts believe that charitable giving will likely drop more than it did during the 2008 recession and that recovery will probably take longer, the Ford Foundation said.

Arts organizations led by and serving people of color, which have historically been underfunded, are at increased risk of having to permanently close, the foundation added.

The Ford Foundation also contributed $35 million to the regional initiative, in which multiyear grants will be issued to cultural groups of color with “exceptional regional or local significance.”

Other foundations, including the Getty Foundation, the Heinz Endowments, the William Penn Foundation and the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation will provide matching funds for those grants. It is expected that those grant recipients will be announced in early 2021.

The $85 million contribution from the Ford Foundation to the initiative comes from an unusual source: a bond offering earlier this year, amid economic upheaval, in which Ford raised $1 billion so that the organization could substantially increase the amount of money it distributes.

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Newsrust: New Initiative Will Grant $156 Million to Arts Groups Run by People of Color
New Initiative Will Grant $156 Million to Arts Groups Run by People of Color
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