Ford Foundation Awards $156 Million to 20 BIPOC Arts Organizations Through ‘America’s Cultural Treasures’ Initiative Including East West Players, Japanese American National Museum, Museum of Chinese in America, Wing Luke Museum and More

The Ford Foundation has launched the America’s Cultural Treasures initiative, a program awarding upward of $156 million in COVID-19 relief grants to arts organizations run by and for people of color.

The cast of East West Players’ production of MAMMA MIA. Photo by Steven Lam

The growing initiative has so far awarded twenty unrestricted grants of between $1 million and $6 million to BIPOC organizations across the country. In addition to the grant funds each grantee will receive up to $100,000 for organizational capacity building – particularly in key areas including digital strategies and other needs.

The initiative was conceived by Ford Foundation president, Darren Walker and members of the foundation’s Creativity and Free Expression program. The aim of the program is meant to direct resources to organizations representing “historically marginalized, underfunded and underrepresented in the narrative of American culture.”

In addition to the Ford Foundation’s initial $50 million pledge for the initiative’s national component, funding has also been provided by Bloomberg Philanthropies and Barbara and Amos Hostetter, and additional support from the Abrams Foundation, Alice L. Walton Foundation, and Tom and Lisa Blumenthal.

$81 million in grants have been awarded to 20 organizations deemed “significant national anchors for artistic and cultural diversity in America”

The 20 organizations are: Alaska Native Heritage Center, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Apollo Theater, Arab American National Museum, Ballet Hispánico, Charles H. Wright Museum, Dance Theater of Harlem, East West Players, El Museo del Barrio, Japanese American National Museum, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, Museum of Chinese in America , IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, National Museum of Mexican Art, Penumbra Theatre, Project Row Houses, Studio Museum in Harlem, Urban Bush Women, and Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience.

An additional $35 million pledge from the Ford Foundation will go to regional BIPOC arts organizations with “exceptional regional or local significance” across seven regions.

Foundation partners will provide matching funds for multi-year grants and other supports. Those foundations include the Barr Foundation (Massachusetts), Getty Foundation (Los Angeles), Heinz Endowments (Pittsburgh), Houston Endowment (Houston), John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (Chicago), Joyce Foundation (Chicago), McKnight Foundation (Minnesota), The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation (Los Angeles), Terra Foundation for American Art (Chicago), and William Penn Foundation (Philadelphia).

Recipients of regional grants will be announced in early 2021 and more cities and regions will be added as funders join this effort.

Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young. She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs.

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