Community activity at the Black Belt Treasures Cultural Arts Center in Camden, Alabama (courtesy the Black Belt Treasures Cultural Arts Center)

Arts nonprofits in the American South have been historically overlooked by large grantmakers, receiving about half of the national average of arts funding and only 25% of what counterparts in the Northeast receive, as of 2017. Some remedy to this inequality is now coming from the Ford Foundation, which teamed up with the Atlanta-based nonprofit South Arts for a $6 million initiative to support arts and cultural organizations serving communities of color throughout the Southeast.  

Named Southern Cultural Treasures, the program will provide general operating grants of up to $300,000 and project grants of up to $7,500 to a cohort of 12-15 arts organizations from May 2022 to March 2025. The grantees will also receive networking opportunities and development counseling to achieve stabilization and growth.

The application process opens today, November 3, on South Arts’ application portal. To apply, eligible organizations should submit a letter of intent to participate by December 10. A webinar for interested organizations will be held on November 12. The final grantees will be announced in early May, 2022.

The Ford Foundation is providing half of the funding for the program ($3 million) while South Arts continues to raise funds for the other half. The initiative is a regional offshoot of America’s Cultural Treasures, a $156 million program launched last year by Ford and other grantmakers to help arts organizations led by people of color recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Southern Cultural Treasures is a turning point for the arts in the South,” said Susie Surkamer, South Arts’ President and CEO in a statement today. “The initiative allows for a more equitable art community throughout the nine states in which South Arts operates, and furthers our mission of advancing Southern vitality through the arts.”

The Latest

Hakim Bishara

Hakim Bishara is a Senior Editor at Hyperallergic. He is also a co-director at Soloway Gallery, an artist-run space in Brooklyn. Bishara is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital...