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Eighteen arts organizations founded by, with and for communities of color are selected for national arts initiative funded by The Wallace Foundation

Eighteen arts organizations founded by, with and for communities of color are selected for national arts initiative funded by The Wallace Foundation
May 26, 2022

​​​​​​​​​​​​PRESS CONTACTS 
Delaney Smith
Resnicow and Associates 
212-671-5160 /​

Aurelia Grayson
The Wallace Foundation 
917-699-9930 /


Arts organizations are part of a new five-year, $100 million initiative to learn together about the relationship between community orientation, resilience and relevance

NEW YORK, May 26, 2022 – The Wallace Foundation today announced 18 arts organizations of color 1 will participate in the first phase of a new five-year arts initiative, part of the foundation’s efforts to foster equitable improvements in the arts. Each organization will carry out an individual project to address a strategic challenge they are facing. Researchers will document their work with the aim of developing useful insights about the relationship between community orientation, resilience, and relevance.

Following an open call for submissions in 2021, the 18 organizations were selected from more than 250, and represent a diverse range of artistic disciplines, geographic locations, and communities served. Each selected organization will receive five years of funding totaling approximately $900,000 to $3.75 million to develop and pursue individual projects.​ A brief description of each organization is available here. They include:

1Hood Media (Pittsburgh, Pa.)

Arab American National Museum (Dearborn, Mich.)

BlackStar (Philadelphia, Pa.)

Chicago Sinfonietta (Chicago, Ill.)

EastSide Arts Alliance, Black Cultural Zone, and Artist As First Responder (Oakland, Calif.)

Esperanza Peace and Justice Center (San Antonio, Texas)

Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture (Charlotte, N.C.)

Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico (San Juan, Puerto Rico)

PHILADANCO!The Philadelphia Dance Company (Philadelphia, Pa.)

Pillsbury House + Theatre (Minneapolis, Minn.)

Pregones/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater (Manhattan and Bronx, N.Y.)

Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project (San Francisco, Calif.)

Ragamala Dance Company (Minneapolis, Minn.)

Rebuild Foundation (Chicago, Ill.)

Self Help Graphics & Art (Los Angeles, Calif.)​

Theater Mu (Saint Paul, Minn.)

The Laundromat Project (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

The Union for Contemporary Art (Omaha, Neb.)

Wallace considered applications submitted from organizations across the visual and performing arts fields, media arts, and community-based organizations focused on artistic practice. The foundation sought to create a group of funded organizations serving a variety of communities, focusing on projects that leverage community orientation, and addressing different kinds of strategic challenges.

Originally announced in July 2021 as a $53 million endeavor involving about a dozen organizations, the initiative has expanded to include additional grantees and planned funding up to $100 million across five years. While Wallace’s support will not eliminate the need for other funding that sustains these organizations, it will give them time and resources to explore new approaches to urgent challenges.

Brigitte McQueen, Executive Director of The Union for Contemporary Art noted: “Our organization has had the good fortune of experiencing astronomical growth in the last five years but in that time, we haven’t had a moment to pause and develop a strategic plan to support true sustainability. This opportunity to work with Wallace has given us the freedom and space to reflect on how far we’ve come, where we’d like to go next, and how we can contribute to the bigger picture with insights that may help other organizations thrive.”

“Historically, arts organizations created by and for communities of color have been overlooked and underfunded,” said Bahia Ramos, director of arts at Wallace. “We hope to support their vision, elevate their contributions, and learn with them in ways that benefit other arts organizations of color along with a broad range of other nonprofit arts organizations interested in how community orientation can contribute to an organization’s relevance and resilience.”

The initiative builds on research going back to the 1970s suggesting that community orientation, along with high-quality artistic programming, may be foundational to organizational health. Community orientation has been described, across the literature, as preserving or presenting the artforms of a particular racial, ethnic, or tribal group, supporting artists from the focus community, developing the cultural workforce of that community, and advocating for the community within broader socio-political contexts, among other activities. In addition to building understanding of what community orientation looks like in different organizations, Wallace hopes to learn with the organizations how they define relevance and resilience.

The 18 organizations plan to address strategic challenges including: succession planning; developing equity-centered practices; developing values-aligned business models; increasing visibility; and creating cultural spaces that nurture the creativity and well-being of artists and the communities to which they belong.

First, the grantees will embark on a planning year for their individual projects in partnership with Wallace, researchers, consultants, and financial management advisers. While the specifics of each project are unique, there are commonalities and opportunities for shared learning and support. Grantees will work with Wallace to name the initiative and identify any technical supports they might need before beginning four years of project implementation. Read more information about the initiative.

The Community Orientation Action Research Team (COART), made up of researchers from Arizona State University and the University of Virginia, has been funded to co-develop the initiative’s research design with the grantees. The research is expected to explore the initiative’s guiding question through the lens of the projects that grantees will implement over four years.

Additionally, the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) is overseeing a fellowship program for 18 early career qualitative researchers, each of whom will be paired with one of the funded arts organizations to develop ethnographies that document their organizational history, practices, and culture. This work is expected to provide important foundational and archival accounts both for the participating organizations and for the field.

Another phase of the initiative, expected to begin in late 2022, will be designed for smaller arts organizations of color with budgets below $500,000. Additionally, Wallace plans to fund arts service organizations, whose primary focus is arts organizations of color, to partner with researchers to co-design and conduct studies that illuminate critical issues or dimensions relevant to their constituencies. These could include documentation of structural and contextual features affecting arts organizations of color, histories and strategies of service organizations of color, fundraising and organizational models, and other challenges relevant to the field. Arts service organizations, partnering with researchers, who are interested in applying to be part of this effort can see our open requests for proposals here​. 

About The Wallace Foundation
The Wallace Foundation’s mission is to foster equity and improvements in learning and enrichment for young people, and in the arts for everyone. Wallace works nationally, with a focus on the arts, K-12 education leadership and youth development. In all of its work, Wallace seeks to benefit both its direct grantees as well as the fields in which it works by developing and broadly sharing relevant, useful knowledge that can improve practice and policy. For more information, please visit the Foundation’s Knowledge Center at

1. The Wallace Foundation uses the term “arts organizations of color” to describe organizations that have been founded by (in either artistic or administrative leadership) and for communities of color. Wallace recognizes that no one umbrella term can accurately represent the plurality and diversity of arts organizations that serve communities of color including Black, Indigenous, Hispanic/Latinx, Arab American, Asian American, and Pacific Islanders.


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