“America’s Cultural Treasures” initiative will provide multi-year grants in response to COVID-19 pandemic
CHICAGO—Today, the Joyce, MacArthur, Terra American Art and Walder foundations announced that they are joining the Ford Foundation in an unprecedented $150 million initiative to recognize “America’s Cultural Treasures,” including at least $16 million to support Black, Latinx, Asian, and Indigenous arts organizations in Chicago that have been hard hit by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The Chicago funders will work together to identify grant recipients as “Chicago’s Cultural Treasures,” for the vital role they play as cultural institutions in the city. Despite their importance, these organizations have historically been under-recognized and under-resourced. The funds are intended to provide general operating support and enable the organizations to be resilient and stable in the face of the unprecedented economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The funders hope this initial investment will bring greater awareness to and support of Black, Latinx, Asian, and Indigenous arts and culture organizations in Chicago.
The regional campaign was seeded by an initial $35 million in support from the Ford Foundation across six regions–Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Houston, Los Angeles–with local foundations driving fundraising and design for individually tailored grantmaking initiatives. Each region will provide matching funds for multi-year grants to cultural groups of color with regional or local significance. The scope of the Chicago program and recipients of the grants will be announced in the coming weeks.
Sharon Corwin, President and CEO of the Terra Foundation for American Art, said: “We are honored to collaborate with the Ford Foundation and engage in this essential work alongside our partners in Chicago to bolster the region’s arts organizations of color. These institutions are critical in shaping the artistic and cultural heritage of our city and nation. 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.”
Ellen Alberding, President of the Joyce Foundation, said: “The impact of COVID-19 on arts organizations of color in Chicago has been seismic. These groups are the cultural anchors of our city and yet have historically been undercapitalized, making them particularly vulnerable during this crisis. The stability and continued vitality of arts organizations of color is central to our city’s recovery efforts, which Chicago’s philanthropic community has been heavily invested in. It is our hope that through this initiative these organizations will emerge even stronger and better positioned to enrich our city for years to come. ”
John Palfrey, President of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, said: “This initiative, as imagined in Chicago, is designed to provide general operating support to cultural organizations of color that contribute to the history, vibrancy, and identity of our city. Many of these institutions serve as neighborhood anchors, sustain cultural traditions, build community, and help ensure that experiences are shared and heard. We are proud to collaborate with the Ford, Joyce, Terra, and Walder foundations and hope it creates the momentum for other funders to join us in this transformative grantmaking.”
Elizabeth Walder, President and Executive Director of the Walder Foundation said: “Sustaining the performing arts in Chicago is a core interest of the Walder Foundation and our focus has been heightened as we witness the toll that COVID-19 is taking on an already-vulnerable sector. Alongside our partners in the ACT Fund, we are committed to supporting the hardest hit—our communities of color. We are grateful to the Ford Foundation for their leadership and for the support of our partners who are responding to the call to ensure that arts organizations of color continue to contribute to Chicago’s rich cultural heritage now and in the future.”
In addition to the regional efforts, the Ford Foundation committed another $71 million in support to a cohort of 20 national organizations that are significant anchors for cultural diversity, including the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago. The art and expression these organizations cultivate and preserve reflect the rich cultural identity and traditions within the United States.
Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation said, “These organizations represent the very highest ideals of artistic excellence and are truly America’s cultural treasures. 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.”
About the Terra Foundation for American Art
The Terra Foundation for American Art supports individuals, organizations, and communities to advance expansive understandings of American art. Established in 1978 and headquartered in Chicago, with an office in Paris, its grant program, collection, and initiatives are committed to fostering cross-cultural dialogues on American art locally, nationally, and internationally.