16 Deep-Pocketed Philanthropic Groups Will Give a Whopping $156 Million to Dozens of BIPOC Cultural Organizations in the US

The Ford Foundation is leading the initiative with support from a host of others.

A performance at Ballet Hispánico's 2019 Gala. Photo by Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images.
A performance at Ballet Hispánico's 2019 Gala. Photo by Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images.

Sixteen major donors, led by the Ford Foundation, announced today that they will give more than $156 million to Black, Latinx, Asian, and Indigenous arts organizations across the US.

Anchored by an $85 million commitment from the Ford Foundation, and using money the organization raised in its unprecedented bond initiative that launched in June, the donors—including Bloomberg Philanthropies, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Alice L. Walton Foundation—will altogether support dozens of organizations, including the Studio Museum in Harlem, Project Row Houses in Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe, and the Apollo Theater in Harlem.

Twenty organizations in particular have been deemed “America’s Cultural Treasures” by the donors, and will receive grants of between $1 million and $6 million each. The grantees will also be awarded an additional $100,000 “for organizational capacity building,” according to a press release.

The facade of the Apollo Theater. Courtesy of Apollo Theater.

“These organizations represent the very highest ideals of artistic excellence and are truly America’s cultural treasures,” Ford Foundation CEO Darren 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.”

A separate regional component to the initiative, seeded by a $35 million commitment from the Ford Foundation, will support smaller organizations across the country. The winners of these grants, which will be matched by organizations including the Getty Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, and the Terra Foundation for American Art, will be announced in early 2021.

“It takes an ice pick to this huge glacier of structural white supremacy,” Eduardo Vilaro, the artistic director and chief executive of Manhattan’s Ballet Hispánico, one of the grantees, told the Washington Post of the initiative.

“Never before have foundations joined together in such a powerful, groundbreaking, and courageous effort to confront issues of need and inequality that face our nation’s cultural organizations of color,” Grant Oliphant, the president of Heinz Endowments, another funder, said in a statement.


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