Ford Foundation announces support for BIPOC arts organizations

Ford Foundation announces support for BIPOC arts organizations

The Ford Foundation, in partnership with fifteen major donors and foundations, has announced a commitment totaling more than $156 million in support of Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) arts organizations.

The funding will support America's Cultural Treasures, a national and regional initiative focused on supporting Black, Latinx, Asian, and Indigenous (BIPOC) arts organizations and groups impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Led by an initial investment of $50 million from Ford and leadership support from Bloomberg Philanthropies ($10 million) and Barbara and Amos Hostetter, with additional support from the Abrams Foundation ($5 million), Alice L. Walton Foundation ($5 million), and Tom and Lisa Blumenthal, the national component of the initiative will provide $81 million in operating and general support grants to a cohort of twenty organizations that serve as anchors for artistic and cultural diversity in America. 

To that end, grants ranging from $1 million to $6 million were awarded to the Alaska Native Heritage Center (Anchorage), Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (New York City), Apollo Theater (New York City), Arab American National Museum (Dearborn, Michigan), Ballet Hispanico (New York City), Charles H. Wright Museum (Detroit, Michigan), Dance Theater of Harlem (New York City) East West Players (Los Angeles, California), El Museo del Barrio (New York City), Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles, California), Jazz at Lincoln Center (New York City), Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico (Santurce, Puerto Rico), Museum of Chinese in the Americas (New York City), Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (Santa Fe, New Mexico), National Museum of Mexican Art (Chicago, Illinois), Penumbra Theatre (St. Paul, Minnesota), Project Row Houses (Houston, Texas), Studio Museum in Harlem (New York City), Urban Bush Women (New York City), and Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience (Seattle, Washington). In addition to the grants, each organization will receive up to $100,000 in organizational capacity building support.

Seeded by an initial $35 million from Ford and supported by matching funds from the Heinz Endowments (Pittsburgh), Houston Endowment (Houston), Terra Foundation for American Art (Chicago), and Barr (Massachusetts), Getty (Los Angeles), John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur (Chicago), Joyce (Chicago), McKnight (Minnesota), Ralph M. Parsons (Los Angeles), and William Penn (Philadelphia) foundations, the regional component of the initiative will provide multiyear grants and other types of support to cultural groups of color that have demonstrated exceptional regional or local significance. Recipients of the grants will be announced in early 2021, with additional groups, cities, and regions to  be added as other funders join the initiative.

Ford's initial commitment of $85 million is funded by proceeds from a $1 billion social bond offering — part of a joint effort by five foundations to increase their grantmaking by $1.725 billion over two years with the aim of stabilizing and sustaining a nonprofit sector struggling with the economic and social impacts of COVID-19 and an epidemic of racial injustice.

"These institutions are critical in shaping the artistic and cultural heritage of [Chicago] and [the] nation," said Terra Foundation president and CEO Sharon Corwin. "It is our hope that through this collective action, these organizations will continue to thrive as creative centers for learning, ensuring a diversity of voices and narratives are celebrated and ideas exchanged."

"Calling them 'America's Cultural Treasures' recognizes that they are excellent but have suffered the impact of systemic racism by being undercapitalized," Kate Levin, who oversees the arts program at Bloomberg Philanthropies, told the Washington Post. "This is a situation that's been in place a long time now, but it's time to take action."

(Photo credit: Ballet Hispanico)