120 Arts Groups Serving Greater Houstons Communities of Color Awarded A Combined $2 Million in Grants from the BIPOC Arts Network and Fund

"When there is an investment in us, there is an investment in our cultural communities"

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One hundred and twenty Greater Houston Area arts organizations and collectives serving Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian American, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern and other important communities of color received a combined $2 million in grants from the Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) Arts Network and Fund, the initiative - also known as "BANF" - announced today.

The inaugural round of BANF funding was made possible by the generous support of the Ford Foundation, Houston Endowment, The Brown Foundation, Inc., The Cullen Foundation, Kinder Foundation and The Powell Foundation. BANF was made possible by the Ford Foundation's America's Cultural Treasures initiative, which in September 2020 committed an unprecedented $156 million to support BIPOC arts communities across the country in response to the devastating economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"There are vital connections between communities of color and our unique art and cultural expressions that celebrate our histories, acknowledge our perseverance and project a productive future," said BANF grantee Michelle Barnes, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Community Artists' Collective. "When there is an investment in us, there is an investment in our cultural communities. I'm honored to be a part of this historic moment in Houston BIPOC arts and I'm proud of my fellow grantees who also have important histories of impact in our communities throughout the greater Houston area and beyond."

BANF was publicly announced Sept. 21, 2021 as an initiative created to provide resources and networks that will support Greater Houston's BIPOC arts communities in fully displaying their power, values and traditions. This is achieved through grant funding, advocacy, and community-building networking initiatives.

Grantees Represent Houston's Diversity

Fifty-one percent of BANF's inaugural grantees are 501c3 organizations and 49 percent are fiscally-sponsored artist collectives in communities of color. Of the 155 applications received, 77 percent were funded.

"This is a moving moment because there are many grantees who are being funded for the first time, despite having a strong and lengthy track record of work in their communities," said BANF grantee, Marissa Castillo, Co-founder of TEATRX, a Latinx theater company. "This grant helps TEATRX advance our mission of making Latinx performance arts a vital and prominent part of the artistic identity of Houston by representing and supporting the Latinx community, its artists, and its stories."

The majority of BANF grantees serve culturally diverse audiences. 80 percent of grantees serve Black, Afro-Caribbean or African-American communities; 74 percent serve the Latinx community; 54 percent serve Asian or Pacific Islander communities; 38 percent serve Indiginous, First Nation or Native American communities and 38 percent serve Middle Eastern or Arab communities.

While most grantees have a mission that is not tied to a particular cultural history, 29 percent of grantees report their mission is tied to a Black, Afro-Caribbean or African-American tradition, 15 percent have a Latinx focus, and 10 percent are rooted in an Asian American or Pacific Islander cultural tradition.

Community Review of Applicants To Shape BANF's Future Work in BIPOC Arts

The applications for this $2 million round of funding were reviewed by a group of 25 individuals of Houston's BIPOC communities representing a rich diversity of backgrounds in artist, arts professional, community leader and art funder experiences, while incorporating a wide-range of cultural heritage, artistic practice and non-arts viewpoints.

The review process was used less as a competitive ranking system and more of a learning tool to inform the development of BANF's future programs. Applicants' stories offered insight on how Houston BIPOC arts organizations and collectives have worked, fought and persisted despite a lack of funding, the trends that demonstrate how arts and culture exists in practice in Houston, and the way BIPOC arts communities need to be supported now and in the future.

"We took the opportunity to prioritize learning and abundance and to de-emphasize competition in our grantmaking process," said BANF Project Director Sixto Wagan. "We saw this as an opportunity to learn from the written and spoken words of applicants what our communities' strengths and challenges are as they face the current economic, social and health realities of today. The full spectrum of the arts community, from funders to BIPOC arts organizations, acknowledged this approach as a catalyst for change and one that must continue in 2022 and beyond. This encouragement inspires BANF to press forward with intention and a strong sense of direction during the next evolution of work."

December 09, 2022
Michael MK

Michael MK
Senior Editor & Writer

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