Artists' Race May Affect Funding Opportunities

Lindsay Cashman Advocacy, Diverse + Connected Region

Public Source reports that minority artists, both locally and nationally, struggle more to fund their projects than others do. Some foundations are trying to change that dynamic, but it is a slow process. In 2013, for example, the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council [GPAC] formed the Pittsburgh Coalition for Racial Equity in the Arts. They also looked at their own grant process and found that lack of diversity on grantmaking panels could be negatively influencing where the funding is going. “It’s about understanding who has the power in the arts community, who has leadership. That’s where you see the most disparity,” Tiffany Wilhelm, deputy director for GPAC, said.

Disparities in the prominence between white artists and minority artists, and the funding that helps them to exist, is not a Pittsburgh-specific problem. Nationally, only 6 percent of minority organizations receive comparable funding from individual donors to organizations serving mostly white patrons, according to Grantmakers in the Arts, which evaluates how equally grants are distributed. In New York, for example, while 67 percent of the city’s population identifies as “people of color,” only 38 percent of arts sector employees share that identity, according to the New York Department of Cultural Affairs.

In June 2015, seven arts advocacy organizations across the country outlined plans to improve equity in arts funding at the United States Urban Arts Federation meeting

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