2019 GIA Conference
Cultural Intersections
Denver, CO  |  October 13–16

Conference Sessions

Following is a partial list of sessions to date. The full schedule will be posted soon.

Equity in Practice: Two approaches for moving forward

Organized by Maurine Knighton, program director for the Arts, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

The Mosaic Network & Fund in The New York Community Trust was established to shift the narrative around ALAANA arts groups and racial equity in the arts and increase overall philanthropic support to arts groups led by, created for, and accountable to ALAANA people. With values rooted in equity and intersectionality, the Fund is a learning community of arts funders and practitioners dedicated to helping ALAANA arts organizations thrive over the long term. In Minnesota, the Racial Equity Funders Collaborative and the Twin Cities Theatres of Color Coalition launched an initiative to strengthen the financial health and sustainability of the five members of the Theater Coalition. The initiative will create a roadmap for adequately supporting arts organizations of color and developing communication, trust, and collaboration. After sharing both models, we will create small ideation clusters for sharing work, troubleshooting, and brainstorming three next steps. Initiative representatives will sit in on the breakouts to offer insights, answer questions, and suggest practical advice.

Artists, Work, and Modern Economies

Organized by Angie Kim, president & CEO, Center for Cultural Innovation.

As an NEA Research Lab, Indiana University-Purdue University (Indianapolis), in partnership with Center for Cultural Innovation (CCI), has launched the Arts, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation (AEI) Lab to examine ways in which artists work in modern economies. For example, how do artists interact with online crowdfunding mediums, what are artists’ employment and entrepreneurship patterns, and what benefits do artists lend to non-arts industries? The year 2019 marks AEI Lab’s inaugural year, and this will be the first opportunity to share findings and spark a research-informed discussion about how artists are affected by changes in gig economies, technological realms, and non-arts industries. This has been long-awaited research. We look forward to having an open discussion about the findings and the implications which have tremendous potential to affect arts grantmaking approaches.

Variations on a Theme: Funding disability aesthetics

Organized by Esther Grimm, executive director, 3Arts; Lane Harwell, program officer, Ford Foundation; and Anne Mulgrave, manager of Grants and Accessibility, Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council.

Embedded in the longstanding practices of philanthropy are age-old assumptions about artistic excellence, technical acumen, and quality that do not always consider variance and the variations of bodies, voices, and perspectives that counter traditional ideals. These variations can breathe new life into old themes and question the strictures of art forms. After an interactive opener, three artists who are shaking it up in their disciplines will discuss the groundbreaking power of disability aesthetics and how funders can be good partners in the work.

Radical Imagination for Racial Justice

Organized by F. Javier Torres, director Thriving Cultures Program, Surdna Foundation

Alex Khasnabish and Max Haiven wrote in their book The Radical Imagination: Social Movement Research in the Age of Austerity, “The notion of the ‘radical’ inherits its most powerful meaning from the Latin ‘root,’ in the sense that radical ideas, ideologies, or perspectives are informed by the understanding that social, political, economic, and cultural problems are outcomes of deeply rooted tensions, contradictions, power imbalances, and forms of oppression and exploitation. As a result, radicalism does not so much describe a certain set of tactics, strategies, or beliefs but rather speaks to an understanding that even if ‘the system’ can be changed through gradual institutional reforms, those reforms must be based on and aimed at a transformation of the fundamental qualities and tenets of the system itself.” Join a dynamic conversation about the importance of investing in radical practices of imagination to support the building of a more racially just and sustainable future. We’ll discuss a variety of grantmaking tactics and approaches that can simultaneously support sustainable practices for artists and catalytic change within communities of color.

Take Note Colorado: A highly inclusive and student-centered approach to creating access to music for K-12 students in Colorado

Organized by Bryce Merrill, music programs manager, Bohemian Foundation.

Take Note Colorado is a statewide initiative to provide all students in Colorado K-12 access to musical instruments and instruction. Founded by former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and Isaac Slade of the Fray, Take Note is supported by foundations, state government, and the private sector, including Colorado’s robust music industry. Take Note is charged with reaching students statewide in a variety of settings, including schools, libraries, community organizations, hospitals, and residential treatment centers. This student-centered initiative deploys culturally-relevant and student-centered resources that represent the broad diversity of the state. In the first two years of this ten-year effort, Take Note will reach over 50k students and invest over $1 million in Colorado. Take Note has purchased traditional instruments, trained hundreds of teachers in culturally-responsive and student-centered pedagogy, and outfitted a converted school bus with turntables to create a mobile lab for student learning. The next eight years will be more of the same—meeting students where they are physically and culturally to ensure that the power of music is accessible to all students in the state.

The Intersection of Theater & Immigration Rights Advocacy: Law enforcement leaders read DREAMer stories

Organized by Gary Steuer, president and CEO, Bonfils-Stanton Foundation; and Rita Valente, producing director, Motus Theater.

In 2017, Motus Theater brought law enforcement leaders of Boulder County to their stage to stand in solidarity with and read the autobiographical monologues of undocumented young adults. The performance intended to dispel the dangerous and false association between criminality and immigration status, emphasize the assets undocumented immigrants bring to the community, and support public safety for all. This groundbreaking performance —which was featured on NPR, USA Today, Fast Company, and American Theater Magazine, as well as on local papers — influenced the national and local conversation about immigration.

Motus Theater and Bonfils-Stanton Foundation will share a screening of the film version of “Law Enforcement Leaders Read DREAMer Stories” followed by a conversation between the audience and two performance participants: Victor Galvan, a Motus undocumented autobiographical monologist, and Mike Butler, Longmont Public Safety Chief; as well as Margaret Hunt from Colorado Creative Industries, that, along with Bonfils-Stanton, funds Motus through grants strategically aimed to support art that engages social issues. This session explores the power of courageous and creative cross-sector alliances that strengthen intersectional alliances for the good of all.

Don’t Exclude Indigenous! Expanding DEI in Philanthropy by Including Native Communities

Organized by Catherine Bryan, director of Programs — Strengthening Tribal and Community Institutions, First Nations Development Institute; and Raymond Foxworth, vice president Grantmaking, Development, and Communications, First Nations Development Institute.

There have been growing attention and action focused on issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, and power sharing in philanthropy. Yet, these conversations do not acknowledge that some groups and communities are so extremely marginalized that they are largely invisible from philanthropy altogether. Consider for example that less than 0.5 percent of foundation giving is directed to Native American causes and organizations, and a much smaller portion of this funding is directed to Native-led arts programming. During this session, nonprofit leaders and funders will explore research efforts for documenting statistics on Native-led organizations and examine the impacts of exclusionary funding. We will close with a discussion around practical tools and strategies to mitigate these issues and practice more inclusive and equitable grantmaking for Native American causes and communities.

Innovation from the field: Distributed leadership for a responsive, participatory, and equitable arts and culture sector

Organized by Emiko Ono, program director, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; and Mike Courville, director, Research and Strategy, Open Mind.

Our world has become more complex, arts nonprofits need many leaders to get things done, and a desire for more inclusive and participatory leadership within the arts and culture sector has quickened. At the same time, demands for greater workplace equity — with particular attention to race, ethnicity, and gender — have further crystallized. Arts organizations are looking for new ways to share or distribute leadership, yet they often struggle to understand what it takes to really put distributed leadership into practice. This interactive learning workshop will explore experiences and insights shared by seven organizations demonstrating different degrees of distributed leadership. Using a series of video case studies commissioned by the Hewlett Foundation’s Performing Arts program, participants will explore and discuss the practice and evolution of distributed leadership in the field. Participants will identify how to apply research findings from the case studies to cultivate more responsive, participatory, and equitable workplaces in the arts and nourish more organic, leadership innovations in the field.