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Penumbra Theatre, The Ballad of Emmett Till, Photo by Allan Weeks
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McKnight Supports Diverse Arts Organizations in 3rd-Quarter Grantmaking

Our communities have experienced transformative demographic change over the last few decades, and more arts funders and institutions are recognizing that the entire arts sector would benefit if arts funding better reflected that diversity.

According to a recent study, just 2 percent of US cultural institutions receive almost 60 percent of all arts funding. In the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, the study found similar gaps. Here, 23 arts organizations with budgets of at least $5 million received 77 percent of arts funding, while 345 arts organizations with budgets under $1 million received just 9 percent.

Our Arts program is working to deepen its understanding of and change the structural factors that contribute to disparities for artists of color and arts organizations founded and led by people of color. In addition, McKnight is one of several local funders that formed the Racial Equity Funders Collaborative to develop sector-wide strategies to ensure greater inclusivity in philanthropy. The approach is “Arts for, by, and about all of our people.”

In McKnight’s third-quarter 2018 grantmaking, the board awarded 81 grants totaling $15.3 million. Of that sum, $1.6 million went to our Arts program. We highlight three of this quarter’s arts grants below. The full list of approved grants is available in our grants database.

Minnesota is home to many diverse communities, and these arts organizations—among many others that we support—help us fully express our state’s cultural identities.

“McKnight’s Arts program funds organizations, programs, and projects that fuel exceptional and diverse artistic practice,” says Debby Landesman, McKnight’s board chair. “We are pleased to be longtime supporters of these community cultural institutions that delight, teach, and move audiences with their performances.”

Penumbra Theatre, Minnesota’s only professional African American theater company, received $300,000 over three years to produce art roaring with the authentic, complex, unrestrained voices of black America. Penumbra continues to deepen its commitments to artists, civic engagement, and social change, leveraging the arts to create more inclusive and compassionate communities for all.

TU Dance received $225,000 over three years. TU Dance, under the artistic direction of Toni Pierce-Sands and Uri Sands, raises the bar for the entire dance community with its commitment to diversity and excellence in its productions, commissions, educational programming, and community engagements. In addition to co-founder Uri Sands’s creations, TU Dance is recognized for performing commissioned works by African American choreographers. Through these celebrated professional performances, and its accessible dance education, TU Dance provides opportunities for all to experience the connective power of dance.

McKnight also made a three-year grant to Theater Mu for $210,000. One of a handful of professional Asian American theater companies in the country, Theater Mu produces performances from the heart of the Asian American experience. Theater Mu also plays a leadership role among local and national theaters, particularly around racial equity issues. The theater provides a home for Asian American performers and opportunities for Minnesotans to explore and experience Asian American culture.

Minnesota is home to many diverse communities, and these arts organizations—among many others that we support—help us fully express our state’s cultural identities.

Topic: Arts & Culture, Diversity Equity & Inclusion

September 2018