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Wallace Foundation: Arts Organizations of Color Initiative

Deadline: August 13, 2021

Note: August 13​​, 2021 is the deadline for letters for interest. Of those organizations who submit letters of interest, Wallace will invite 50 to submit full grant applications, which will be due October 29, 2021.

The Wallace Foundation is seeking eligible arts organizations of color for a new initiative that will explore the question​: “When facing strategic challenges, how can and do arts organizations of color leverage their experience and histories of community orientation to increase their resilience, while sustaining their relevance?” The initiative will include multiple research studies that document the histories and organizational cultures of participating organizations and study how these organizations’ community-oriented approaches address strategic challenges. The dual goals of the initiative are: 1) to support grantees in their work; and 2) by learning with and from grantees, to develop insights that can be shared with other arts organizations of color and the broader field to help improve practice and policy.

Arts organizations of color are defined as those founded by (in either artistic or administrative leadership) and for Black, Indigenous, Hispanic/Latinx, Arab American or Asian American/Pacific Islander communities through mission-related work, and continue to serve those communities today.

Submissions from the following genres will be considered: performing arts, media arts, literary arts, visual arts, artists, community-based organizations founded by and centering artists and artistic practice. Heritage museums of color that include contemporary art and artists are eligible.​

In addition to directly supporting the grantees as they foster strategic change at their organizations, a key goal of the initiative is to develop credible, useful insights to benefit other arts organizations of color and the field at large. The Foundation seeks researchers to study the organizations’ efforts. See the separate Research RFP for details.

Organizations whose primary mission is arts education, youth outcomes, professional development or continuing education are not eligible for this initiative. This initiative will focus on arts presenters with a reasonable degree of similarity.
Note: This solicitation is for the first cohort for this initiative. The initiative will also include a second, larger cohort designed specifically for organizations with smaller budgets. Details for the second cohort will be determined at a later date and listed in a separate solicitation.

Participation in the first cohort will include working with coaches, consultants and researchers to document each grantee’s organizational history and culture through an ethnographic study. Researchers will also document practices and approaches during the initiative through an implementation study.

In service of the learning effort, grantees must commit to:

  • Participation in a planning year;
  • Executive-level participation in monthly meetings with Wallace staffers, consultants or independent researchers to collaborate and share information to inform the development of reports to benefit the field;
  • Executive-level participation in cohort learning, including attendance and participation at two convenings per year;
  • In the first year of the initiative, working closely with ethnographic researchers to document organizations’ histories and cultures, as well as to document how they address strategic challenges; and
  • Collaborating with researchers documenting change efforts over the life of the project.

Amount: Each organization selected to participate will receive five years of funding totaling approximately $2 to 3 million. $53 million is available to make 10-12 awards.

Funding allocations will be determined based on need and will be proportionate to budget sizes. At the end of the planning year, Wallace and grantees will mutually decide on further participation. Grantees will either: be invited to commit to the next four years of implementation and initiate their projects; or​ withdraw from the initiative, if the final direction of the initiative is not aligned with the organization’s needs and goals. Grantees who opt out will be released from commitments to the initiative and will instead receive a separate grant for general operations. ​​

Grantees will also receive coaching and technical assistance based on self-identified needs or wants. Grantees will work with and learn from each other by participating in cohort meetings (learning communities) that occur at least twice a year. Organizations will work with ethnographers to document their histories and organizational cultures. They will also work with researchers to document how they address strategic challenges and to explore meaningful ways to document what happens as a result.

Eligibility: This solicitation is for the first cohort for this initiative. To be eligible for consideration in this first cohort, organizations must:

  • Be based in the United States, District of Columbia or Puerto Rico; ​
  • Be a registered nonprofit organization, or have an existing nonprofit fiscal sponsor;
  • Have an annual budget between $500,000 and $5 million (based on FY 2019 or FY 2020);
  • Focus primarily on engaging the public with the arts;
  • Have been in operation for at least 10 years; and
  • Identify as an arts organization of color.

Link: https://www.wallacefoundation.org/knowledge-center/pages/arts-initiative-open-call.aspx

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