Giving Compass’ Take:
• Insights from the 2020 Constellations Convening in Dallas, TX can help donors effectively fund culture change.
• What role can you play in supporting arts and culture organizations and individuals driving change?
• Find out how pop culture drives social change.
Culture is power – it shapes who we are as a people, sets the terms of our world, and informs how we perceive each other and the issues we face. Culture also reaches audiences that want to engage but are left out of the political system. As Jeff Chang, Vice President of Narrative, Arts, and Culture at Race Forward says, “politics and policy are where some people are some of the time, but culture is where most people are most of the time.”
Artists and storytellers are uniquely positioned to transform worldviews and spark public imagination. They help cultivate prototypes and envision a world where freedom, pluralism, and justice have taken hold and where we live in a regenerative relationship with nature. Artists, particularly those we call “Artist Disruptors,” are dedicated both to transformational creative practice and to dismantling systems of oppression, and they accelerate these shifts when they are supported and resourced to use their creative superpowers to build collective cultural power.
The Design Team makes these recommendations in three primary areas that surfaced at the convening as needing major investment to anchor a nascent/emergent field:
General support directly to Artist Disruptors. A term coined by The Center for Cultural Power, Artist Disruptors are actively trying to undo systems of oppression and domination by creating transformational art that exposes those systems and/or envisions a world where justice has taken hold. Traditional arts funders should stretch towards this circle of artists. Social justice funders should directly support artists advancing authentic narratives on their core issues as part of their portfolio. Both should consider holistic support for artists of color to have space to create free from the side hustle, meaning moving away from project support into multiyear general operating support for artists.
General support to cultural strategy organizations, which work at the intersections of the arts and social justice sectors to shift worldview from domination to collaboration and are prototyping, documenting, and learning about the critical role culture and artists play in driving cultural and social change.
Time-bound experiments that can foster connectivity, strategy, and thought leadership Amongst and between cultural strategy organizations and artists disruptors, recognizing that both individual culture makers and formal organizations need to be connected to adequately develop our foundational theories and pedagogy.
The design process and findings from the 2020 Constellations Convening were used by the Design Team to craft these field-building recommendations for philanthropic partners to find and vet potential grantees that exist at the nexus of arts, culture and social justice. A link to Constellations Convenings attendee bios can be found HERE. Of course, we recognize that this group is not comprehensive of all of the wonderful QTBIPOC artists and organizations that support and organize them who would fit the definition of Artist Disruptor. Rather, we see this as a start in mapping an emerging field.