Giving Compass' Take:
- Philanthropists can provide more strategic funding for the arts economy, building a cultural movement in our society.
- How can donors change how they contribute to investments in the creative sector?
- Learn more about arts and culture philanthropy.
What is Giving Compass?
We connect donors to learning resources and ways to support community-led solutions. Learn more about us.
Efforts to remedy historic race-based harms by prioritizing care for land, resources, people, and cultural expressions are flourishing. These efforts go by many names—solidarity economics, restorative economics, and just economics—to name a few. Whatever one calls them, they both represent an emergent economy while also building off the nation’s rich social movement history. Economic change is not only possible—it is already happening.
We are seeing growing numbers of economic initiatives in the arts that center solidarity economy efforts, which seek to prioritize people and sustainable community problem-solving ideas over profits. While the pace of change can be frustratingly slow, we are encouraged by growing interest in building a solidarity economy for artists.
In this movement, artists themselves are playing a leading role. In large measure, this movement has been spurred by economic necessity. As Natalia Linares and Caroline Woolard wrote two years ago in NPQ, “It’s clear that artists need a solidarity economy if we are to overcome our status as exploited workers.”
There are specific funding strategies that philanthropy can employ to shield artists from the capitalist market. These include supporting below-market loan financing, helping artists acquire affordable studio space and housing assistance, and assisting artists to form worker and producer cooperatives that can help them to achieve dignity at work and economic security.
Nonetheless, too many funding institutions continue to follow well-trodden paths when it comes to economic development and investments in the creative sector. Too often, funders aim to create a harmonious society through diversity, equity, and inclusion practices that only put more people into problematic systems. As Eliya Imtiaz, former managing editor of the “Michigan in Color” section of the Michigan Daily, put it last year, “Similar to most ideals in this country, the current notion of DEI heightens the façade that everything occurs on an individual level.” Or funders deploy capital in ways that, borrowing from Wall Street advisors, are more intent on institutional preservation than shifting power—a point Clara Miller powerfully made a couple of years ago in NPQ, when she wrote about how many of the same funders that had come together to support a community development financial institution to protect residents from foreclosure were investing in the very private equity firms that were the leading beneficiaries of the foreclosures.
Read the full article about arts solidarity by Cate Fox and Nichole M. Christian at Nonprofit Quarterly.