Funders interested in advancing social justice through narrative change need to invest in "artist disruptors" whose work exposes systems of oppression and domination, a report from a cultural strategy collaborative argues.
The report, Celestial navigation: How to fund culture change in the U.S. (14 pages, PDF), offers a roadmap for supporting the growth, networks, and development of artists, cultural strategy organizations, and the nascent field of cultural strategy. The recommendations are based on discussions held at a January 2020 convening of Constellations, a pilot program focused on raising up artists and cultural strategists — especially those who are queer, trans, Black, Indigenous, and/or people of color (QTBIPOC). Anchored by BRIC, the Center for Cultural Power, the Detroit Narrative Agency, Firelight Media, the First Peoples Fund, Intelligent Mischief, Race Forward, SMU Meadows Ignite/Arts, and the Surdna Foundation, the event brought together more than eighty artists, cultural organizers, and culture workers to talk about their role in narrative change, strategize how to strengthen the field of culture strategy, and call out the need for more support for a cultural strategy ecosystem with artists at its center.
To address that need, the report details three recommendations for funders interested in shifting cultural narratives: support artist disruptors of color with multiyear general operating support grants; provide general support to cultural strategy organizations working at the intersections of art and social justice; and invest in experiments designed to connect organizations and artists working to develop theories of change and a pedagogy, advance strategy, and strengthen leadership in the field.
"This moment in history demands a culture shift to lay the groundwork for long-term, lasting change towards justice," the report's authors write. "More and more funders are turning to cultural strategy as a missing tactic, but not enough of them are coordinated in their efforts to resource the necessary ecosystem. Now is the time to vastly expand the capacity and coordination of the cultural strategy field."