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Photo Credit: Paul Virtucio
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$12.6 Million Initiative Offers New Funding for Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Asian American-Led Arts Organizations

(May 18, 2021 — Minneapolis, Minn.) — A $12.6 million regional initiative of America’s Cultural Treasures will provide new funding for Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Asian American-led arts organizations. The funding, to be distributed in two phases, is made possible by a collaboration of the McKnight, Ford, Bush and Jerome Foundations.

Phase 1: Regional Cultural Treasures

$7 million, provided by Ford & McKnight Foundations 

In phase one, ten arts organizations in Minnesota — designated Regional Cultural Treasures  each will receive unrestricted grants of at least $500,000, to be distributed over the next five years or more. The Regional Cultural Treasures program honors organizations that have made a significant impact on our cultural landscape over decades. The ten organizations are: 

  • American Indian Community Housing Organization Arts Program 
  • Ananya Dance Theatre 
  • Indigenous Roots 
  • Juxtaposition Arts  
  • Mizna  
  • Pangea World Theater  
  • Somali Museum  
  • Theater Mu 
  • TruArtSpeaks  
  • Walker|West 

Learn more about the organizations 

“We use the term ‘Cultural Treasures’ with intention, to honor the diversity of expression and artistic excellence that these organizations contribute to the cultural vitality of our state, despite having historically experienced under-investment,” said Tonya Allen, president of the McKnight Foundation. “As our arts institutions prepare to safely re-open after the pandemic, we’re thrilled to shine a spotlight on these remarkable organizations.” 

The following criteria informed the selection of the ten Regional Cultural Treasures: 

  • Regionally recognized for stewarding and sustaining a cultural/aesthetic tradition rooted in a community of color; 
  • Regionally, nationally or internationally recognized for excellence in artistic/cultural practice; 
  • Has had a significant legacy of impact for more than one decade; 
  • Serves as a training ground for succeeding generations of artists and cultural leaders; 
  • Recognized as a critical hub for a larger network of allied organizations or efforts; 
  • Contributes to McKnight Foundation’s mission to advance a more just, creative, and abundant future where people and planet thrive. 

The Minneapolis Foundation will administer the Regional Cultural Treasures grants. 

Phase 2: Seeding Cultural Treasures

$5.6 million provided by Ford, McKnight, Bush and Jerome Foundations 

In the second phase, the Seeding Cultural Treasures program will award grants to grow the future of Black, Indigenous, Latinxand Asian American artists and cultural organizations in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and the 23 Native Nations that share the same geography. 

“We believe that supporting established Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Asian American-led organizations with impressive track records, as well as individual artists and younger organizations, will make our communities better places to live,” said DeAnna Cummings, McKnight Arts program director. “We also hope this funding catalyzes greater recognition and increased investment in these vital arts organizations and their leaders who are meeting this moment with imagination, persistence, and creativity.” 

Propel Nonprofits and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council will administer the program, engaging artists and community stakeholders to co-create it. These partners will share more information later in 2021 about how to apply for funding. 

Funders Unite to Support the Arts

The Ford Foundation launched America’s Cultural Treasures in fall 2020, seeking regional funding partners throughout the country to match its contribution. In Minnesota, the McKnight Foundation answered that call to serve as the lead regional partner and matched an initial contribution of $5 million from the Ford Foundation. The Bush and Jerome Foundations contributed an additional $2.6 million to bring the fund to $12.6 million. Both programs invite additional funding partners to increase the resources for the arts and culture rooted in communities of color in our region.

“We’re thrilled to partner with the McKnight, Bush, and Jerome Foundations to celebrate arts organizations that are adding to the richness and diversity of the American cultural fabric,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. “These treasures are a symbol of the excellence present in Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Asian American-led arts organizations and we hope to inspire continued investment in communities of color in the years to come.”

Media contact:
Kathy Graves, Parenteau Graves

Download the full press release

Topic: Arts & Culture, Diversity Equity & Inclusion

May 2021