Giving Compass' Take:

• Pam Bailey explains that the George Gund Foundation, a Cleveland organization, believes in leveraging the arts to confront social issues in today's society.

• While some patrons of the arts may shy away from controversy, Gund and others mentioned in this post show that bringing awareness to pressing problems in a cultural context makes a big impression.

• Read more about how the arts can help promote social change.

Artists and activists are natural partners, but nonprofit organizations often are reluctant to fully leverage the arts to challenge the political response (or non-response) to pressing social issues. Reasons range from a fear of publicly committing themselves to a position to a lack of appreciation for the ability of art to engage when words cannot.

The George Gund Foundation, a private Cleveland nonprofit with the simple but grandiose vision of “advancing human welfare,” devoted its fiscal year 2017 annual report to encouraging nonprofits, regardless of political viewpoint, to raise their voices in a time when many recent social justice achievements are being reversed. It commissioned New York photographer Accra Shepp to document artistic activism by nonprofit cultural organizations in the city.

“The photographs in this year’s annual report explore the border we may be inclined to think exists between art and politics,” the website states. “The subjects of these photographs shatter that line.”

One of the featured organizations is Shooting Without Bullets, which focuses on black and brown youth in the city. “Armed with cameras, art supplies, and knowledge of the systemic issues facing their communities, these teens fill gallery walls and performance stages with their perspectives. Shooting Without Bullets is both art and activism, and is dedicated to bettering the Cleveland community, while documenting its beauty and its pain,” says its website.

Read the full article about nonprofits supporting art activism by Pam Bailey at Nonprofit Quarterly.