Marginalized populations and Arts Funding

Where does most funding go?

I just posted this piece to my facebook wall but will copy some of the quotes I highlighted as it has to do with numbers regarding funding for underserved communities which includes not only rural areas but populations of ethnic minorities.

‎”In Fusing Arts, Culture and Social Change: High Impact Strategies for Philanthropy, Sidford observes that the more a foundation is focused on giving to the arts, the less likely it is to prioritize supporting artistic traditions from Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America, Native American tribal cultures, rural communities like the Berkshires and other underserved populations.”
‎”Only 10 percent of grant dollars made to support the arts (such as visual arts, performing arts and museums) explicitly benefit the poor, ethnic and racial minorities, the elderly and other marginalized populations. Less than 4 percent of grants dollars support advancing social justice goals through the arts.”
Please read the piece as well as the original study which spurred this post and my previous blog post.  Also relevant is my post, Supporting whose arts anyway?

5 thoughts on “Marginalized populations and Arts Funding

  1. I think this concept is extremely thought-provoking for educators like myself. Yes, we all talk the talk of cultural tolerance and incorporation of all traditions, but music classes especially end up with a short end of the stick in terms of how many different traditions are used.

    The obvious counter-argument to this is that there is not enough time to communicate all traditions to all students, but I think there’s probably more we (read: I most of all) can do to help involve everybody.

    Now, as you said, crossover may not interest some people. But surely in larger urban areas (as in, not my 65, 000 – person city) we could have access to enough cultural traditions in music that some experts from various sides could come in, even just to show people what is being done by some other traditions which outlast the current ‘European Art Music’ culture by leaps and bounds.

    In actual fact, my hope is that someday crossover WILL be accepted. I love African musical traditions, and I think there is tremendous potential for that crossover to happen and enrich both sides. I think if there is to be actual growth in music and not merely a recycling of ‘simplicity to complexity to emotion to chaos’ and back again, we NEED those different traditions to mix and deliver us new and exciting ways of creating, appreciating, and understanding music.


    1. “The obvious counter-argument to this is that there is not enough time to communicate all traditions to all students, but I think there’s probably more we (read: I most of all) can do to help involve everybody.”

      That’s the crux of the problem–with our traditional Western music training, so very few of us are qualified to teach outside of our disciplines. The most we can hope is to expose students to some of these traditions but even then we don’t often know enough about these musics to even begin such a concerted effort.

      Larger metro areas do have some of those resources, but the problem then is finding them and making the necessary connections with musicians in these other traditions and we’re already disadvantaged since our normal networks don’t easily allow us to do that. The infrastructure of our Western music educational institutions just are designed for that.

      I think that’s what fascinates me about the Bay Area here in the States–there is now some infrastructure that amplify the efforts at creating Chinese Traditional Orchestras–the k-12 music programs in some of the schools in the area are beginning to train kids in Chinese musical traditions which then feed into the Chinese traditional Youth Symphonies and then the regional Community and Semi-Professional Orchestras in the area. I believe it was the Washington post which had written a piece about a 9 year old African-American boy who went through this program and is learning how to perform Chinese Opera!

      And yes, I believe that having all these different artistic traditions can only help the Western ones–just knowing that there are more, say compositional resources and performing opportunities can’t hurt!


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