McKnight and other Minnesota funders answer Ford’s appeal with more than $ 12 million for BIPOC-led arts – Inside Philanthropy
Last year, Ford and several partner organizations launched America’s Cultural Treasures, a two-phase national initiative of more than $ 156 million to prevent arts organizations led by BIPOC from falling victim to the COVID-19 pandemic and to provide them with the means to achieve long-term stability.
Ford’s metaphorical rocket continues to rise. Last month, one of the regional partners participating in Ford’s largest fundraising program, the McKnight Foundation of Minnesota,announced its own two-phase initiative, funded by an initial amount of $ 12.6 million, to bring this moonlight higher.
In its announcement, McKnight listed 10 artistic nonprofits led by BIPOC that will receive “at least $ 500,000” over the next five or more years under Phase 1 of its program, called “Cultural Treasures. regional ”. Phase 1 grantees include the American Indian Community Housing Organization Arts Program in Duluth; Mizna, a Saint-Paul-based organization that supports the work of Arab, Southwest Asian and North African artists; and the Somali Museum in Minneapolis.
In a second phase, Seeding Cultural Treasures, McKnight, Ford and two other funders plan to provide $ 5.6 million to arts and culture organizations run by BIPOC in Minnesota, North Dakota. , South Dakota and the 23 aboriginal nations that share the same geography. ”
How the fundraising team was formed
McKnight is one of 10 regional funding partners who joined Ford’s Moonshot initiative nationwide in 2020, a group that includes the Barr Foundation in Massachusetts, the Getty Foundation and the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation in Los Angeles, and the William Penn Foundation in Philadelphia. . Ford has allocated an initial $ 35 million among each of the regional funders, who have all agreed to provide a matching amount to arts organizations led by BIPOC and to individual artists in their respective regions.
For their part, McKnight and Ford united to raise the first $ 7 million, then the Bush and Jerome foundations joined the pair to bring the total of the two phases to $ 12.6 million.
As part of the upcoming second phase, ‘Sowing Cultural Treasures’, grants will be awarded through a participatory grant-making process administered by Propel Nonprofits and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (MRAC), each of which will solicit the participation of artists from the region and the creation of their respective programs. Information on how to apply for this funding is expected “later in 2021”.
Make the pie bigger
McKnight Arts Program Director DeAnna Cummings told Inside Philanthropy that the large amount of money being moved and the focus on BIPOC-led arts organizations and individual artists are not the only unique aspects of cultural treasures. Americans.
“This funding is funding on top of the payment, both for the Ford Foundation as well as the McKnight Foundation and the other partners” who collectively created the $ 12.6 million program, she said. declared. In other words, she added, rather than just cutting some of their respective money “pies” for cultural institutions run by people of color, “we said, ‘no, we’re going to enlarge the pie. ‘ “
The emphasis on the BIPOC-led arts and the amount of money involved are both unique in themselves. No later than 2017, the Helicon Collaborative reported that less than 50 cultural organizations whose missions mainly focus on BIPOC, rural or low-income communities have received sufficient funding to maintain budgets of $ 5 million per year.
By growing their cake for BIPOC-led organizations and eventually individual artists, McKnight and his partners are doing something about this funding inequity and, Cummings said, are contributing to both the arts scene and the movement for the ‘equity. Each of the Regional Treasures Phase 1 winners, Cummings said, represent “the best of the best” from the region’s arts world, but that’s not all. They are also “doing a work rooted in building a more equitable world,” she said, adding that their very existence makes Minnesota a better place.
Recalling the name of Ford’s national effort, Cummings said that “these organizations are our treasures and should be seen and appreciated as such, as gems.”
When I asked him how the beneficiaries of phase 1 align with McKnight’s mission to “advance a more just, creative and bountiful future where people and the planet thrive, Cummings cited a beneficiary, TruArt Speaks. During its 10-year existence, TruArt Speaks has used Hip Hop “as a vehicle to engage under-represented voices in poetry and spoken word creation, but their work is also deeply rooted in creating more Twin Cities. fair and equitable, and even more broadly, “said Cummings.
Cummings has also been very open about why McKnight can afford to increase his payouts. “Like virtually every other foundation in the country, and especially foundations that reach $ 1 billion or more, the assets of the McKnight Foundation have made more money this year than we have ever made in history. foundation, ”Cummings said, citing the soaring stock market in the COVID era. And McKnight did it without some of the creative techniques that other lenders (Ford included) have used to raise capital in the COVID era, like selling bonds.
Speaking not only of McKnight, but to some extent, philanthropy more broadly, Cummings said, “Part of what I think we are seeing is a recognition that we can do more, and that we need to do more,” as the pandemic has both highlighted and exacerbated vast inequalities in wealth.
Prepare for phase 2
Prior to phase 2, donors chose to administer organizations in a thoughtful manner, adopting criteria suited to immediate and longer-term objectives. In the short term, funders were looking for administrators who had or could develop the capacity to create the program and start transferring money quickly.
Ford urged all regional partners to act urgently. According to Cummings, Ford’s message continues to be that “now is the time to get the money out to people as quickly as possible” without “spending money.”[ing] one more minute than necessary ”on planning, holding strategic meetings and creating procedures, as the industry as a whole is so renowned for doing.
McKnight and his partners were also keen to work with organizations that already had “deep community relationships”, in particular the BIPOC artist community and the arts organizations run by BIPOC.
Finding directors who combine these two skills with the ability and relationships to attract additional funds – a long-term criterion – has been a challenge.
“As a rule, a partner who had the ability [to move quickly] perhaps he did not have the connections in the community; there’s a good chance they didn’t, ”Cummings said. At the same time, “the partners who had deep relationships in the community, and especially over the past year, lacked the capacity right now and would take a minute” before they could develop the capacity to quickly create the program and start taking money out the door.
The two-phase approach of the Global Grants Program resulted from this challenge, with the Minneapolis Foundation serving as steward for the Phase 1 grant process; Propel for Nonprofits and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (MRAC) were chosen to create the process and secure funding for Phase 2, Seeding Cultural Treasures.
“Resist the urge to create the program”
Now that the focus is on moving to Phase 2, McKnight and his partners are clear that their role is to establish a minimum base of criteria, then step aside and let the community take the lead. . The Seeding Cultural Treasures phase of the global America’s Cultural Treasures program, Cummings said, is specifically intended to be a space where funders give up control.
“We resist the urge to create the program before handing it over to the community for them to create; we really want it, ”she said. Donors are considering the creation of a kind of community advisory committee, so that “people of color [including artists and BIPOC leaders of arts organizations] are in the process of creating the schedule and deciding how this next pot of funds is going to be distributed.
Go beyond distinctions for a real long-term investment
In the long term, McKnight and the other initial funders hope to attract additional funds for this overall project. To illustrate this fact, the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council was chosen as a trustee, in part because it administers many local funds advised by donors.
The hope is that these existing relationships will give wealthy donors a way to show their continued support for BIPOC communities in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the resulting uprisings, both in the Twin Cities and across the country. .
“We don’t want what can happen to happen,” Cummings said, when a smaller nonprofit receives significant support for a certain period of time and, at the end of that period, “it falls. off a cliff, right? This source of money is disappearing.
Regarding keeping that money going, Cummings said McKnight doesn’t feel like an owner of the program and would actually be delighted if other foundations would create their own programs to support the BIPOC-led arts in Minnesota. Instead, the larger goal is to ‘shine a light and amplify’ the very real ways that communities of color are essential to the vibrancy of the wider area so that these communities continue to receive a ‘real’. investment ”.
In other words, it is time for the wealthy, mostly white Minnesotans to pay far more than hype to the arts organizations and artists of BIPOC who contribute so much to the artistic and activist communities of the region.
“So not just praise,” Cummings said. “Honors are fine, but you can’t pay bills with honors. [We need to] to put money, great resources, [into BIPOC arts communities], just as we have done for decades to build the predominantly white cultural institutions in our region.