2021 GIA Conference
Plurality, Power, and Belonging
Online | Nov 5 – 11

2021 GIA Conference

Plurality, Power, and Belonging

Pivoting to a Fully Virtual 2021 GIA Conference + Postponing San Juan to 2023

We have been eagerly awaiting the start of the 2021 GIA Annual Conference coming this November in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Given the unprecedented times in which we are living and working – and the importance of prioritizing the health and safety of our hosts, our team, and our members conference participants – we had designed this year’s conference in a hybrid model, allowing for both in-person or virtual participation.

Considering the emotional stress, increasing anxiety, and stricter travel measures our members have expressed surrounding this new phase of the coronavirus pandemic, we at Grantmakers in the Arts have made the difficult decision to pivot to a fully virtual conference in 2021 and postpone to 2023 an in-person conference in San Juan.

The planning process for on-going support and learning from afar between GIA and our San Juan-based partners will continue during this time. You can keep yourself informed of this planning activity by signing up for notifications.

During our planning process, we have been keeping up with the travel guidelines and recommendations for Puerto Rico from the local government as well as the CDC. We have spoken with many session organizers and participants who have shared increasing travel restrictions, very heightened concerns about travel risks, and fears about unnecessarily exposing unvaccinated children in their homes. Even with the best COVID-safe measures in place – like requiring all in-person participants to be fully vaccinated to join any and all in-person track events and requiring masks throughout the conference whenever an event, program, or tour was indoors – the heightened concerns about travel-associated exposure to and transmission of SARS-CoV-2 puts undue risk upon the local community in San Juan, which is a risk we are unwilling to take.

This decision has been very tough for us, since this means some level of lost opportunity to make meaningful connections with artists, creatives, and cultural funders and organizers in Puerto Rico. This decision must necessarily lead GIA to both/and next steps. We commit to both pivoting the 2021 conference to virtual and postponing the in-person conference to 2023 with ongoing relationship and future(s) building between now and then. Our goal for this approach is to ask of the field how we will develop working relationships that sustain organizing and cultural expression even from afar and we hope that from the seeds of this year’s convening and ongoing collaboration an even stronger 2023 program and sustained support can emerge.

We recognize this is a new and different way of building relationships and organizing for GIA. While this may be a challenge, it is one that we are eager to take on and know it is what we are called to do for more a just and equitable future for our Puerto Rican-based partners, GIA members, and the cultural ecosystem.

We continue to honor our commitment to partnering with, supporting, and celebrating the cultural communities of Puerto Rico throughout the forthcoming virtual conference with keynotes, sessions, and artists talks centered on San Juan. We thank you for your grace, understanding, and commitment to pivoting with us knowing that this decision is one made out of care for our Puerto Rican-based colleagues and partners and a reflection of the challenging pivots the pandemic has brought to all of us.

With gratitude and appreciation,
The GIA Team and the 2021 Conference Planning Committee

Grantmakers in the Arts welcomes you to celebrate, support, and partner with our conference hosts in San Juan! While we aren’t together now, we can still build relationships and act together toward greater plurality and power, toward belonging and justice.

How to condense in a paragraph such an enchanting place like Puerto Rico? La Isla del Encanto – the Island of Enchantment – may be associated with palm trees and beaches, the romantic air of Old San Juan and the flavors of Piñones, and the rhythms of bomba and plena, but the island and its people are much more than that. Its complex colonial history and ever-lasting political state define its status as a US territory, and the ancestors of our legacies – Taíno, African, and European – are an example of the diverse social and cultural narratives that encompass Puerto Rico. Deep questions of identity and belonging, speaking truth to power, and embracing a layered and diasporic community offer us immense insight into the ever-adapting culture of the island.

The devastation left by Hurricanes Irma and María, a wave of earthquakes, and economic and political crises only strengthened solidarity in the face of despair among Puerto Ricans. These years-long struggles flowed into massive protests from Puerto Ricans on the island and in the diaspora. Artists and activists, among the many calling for change, continue to lead the way for imagining different relationships of belonging in new futures with the strength Puerto Ricans’ show on their daily brega.

Puerto Rico may be music, sazón, and joy, but it is most importantly its people and their desire to be seen, respected, and celebrated. Join us November 5-11 to reunite with the GIA community and shape a future that centers culture and justice.

2021 Planning Committee

Colectivo Moriviví, Libre y Peligrosa (2019), Humacao, Puerto Rico. Learn more about Colectivo Moriviví