Diversity, Access, and Participation in Contemporary Arts Philanthropy
This thesis investigates a contemporary movement to incorporate goals of increased diversity, access, and participation into the artistic, operational, and programmatic missions of non-profit arts organizations. In the past several years, a number of major funding institutions have reworked their strategic plans to incorporate these equivocal goals into their philanthropic mission. While this progress is consistent within multicultural initiatives of the past decade, actually implementing these new directives becomes highly complicated. Changing funding priorities bring forward a litany of concerns; in particular I question who is given agency within these processes and how ideological frameworks can translate into meaningful action. In my research I utilize two lines of investigation. First is an in-depth analysis of the changing missions of three case studies: Irvine Foundation, Ford Foundation, and Chicago Community Trust and the organizations they support. The second line follows the narratives of individual arts practitioners who incorporate the tenets of diversity, engagement, and participation in their practices. I explore how the ideals of diversity, access, and participation manifest in each of these cases, with an eye towards how the large-scale goals at the funding level and the embedded goals of ground level practitioners might come together to suggest new ways of operating at the organizational level.