Ford and William Penn Foundations join with others to give millions to BIPOC arts groups in Philadelphia
At least $10 million will go to Philadelphia arts organizations over the next five years to support a “racially, economically, and socially just COVID-19 recovery.”
A group of foundations have banded together to provide millions in pandemic-related financial aid to Philadelphia BIPOC arts and culture groups.
At least $10 million will go to organizations over the next five years to support a “racially, economically, and socially just COVID-19 recovery,” the William Penn Foundation and other philanthropies announced Wednesday.
The initiative is the local answer to a national effort by the Ford Foundation to support groups serving and/or led by Black and Indigenous people and people of color, which often operate with fewer financial and philanthropic resources than their white counterparts. For the Philadelphia effort, Ford provided $5 million and William Penn $3.5 million, with the rest coming from the Barra Foundation, Neubauer Family Foundation, Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, and Wyncote Foundation.
“Good, do it!” said Jennifer Turnbull, codirector of Spiral Q, the West Philadelphia art-as-public-protest group, upon hearing news of the program. She said her group would be applying for funding. Of the application and vetting process, she said: “Make it easy, and make it equitable.”
Focusing support on BIPOC groups is important, said Judilee Reed, William Penn’s program director of creative communities, because such nonprofits were already receiving lower levels of support, “which makes these moments of extreme stress such as what we experiencing from the pandemic almost catastrophic to some of these organizations and some of these communities.”
This round of pandemic relief is on top of nearly $13 million in support from William Penn in concert with others already awarded to the general arts and culture sector in the Philadelphia area.
The new program will phase in eligibility for three different kinds of recipients. Currently, William Penn is accepting letters of interest from established groups (those operating for more than five years) seeking general operating support. Other programs to follow in 2022 will award fellowship grants to individual artists and project grants to newer organizations or collectives.
The initiative’s first round of grants, to established groups, is expected to distribute about $6 million to an unspecified number of organizations.
The new program is expected to stretch through 2026, an acknowledgment, said Reed, that “giving groups a longer runway could be helpful in getting things back on track.”