Black Art Futures Fund to distribute $35,000 in emergency grants to small Black Arts organizations.
Columbia, SC, March 18, 2020—Black Art Futures Fund (BAFF), a collaborative funding project headed by philanthropist and arts leader DéLana R.A. Dameron has decided to suspend its current and third application cycle in an effort to more quickly execute its mission: moving critical funds to small, community-based Black arts organizations who may be severely impacted by the precautionary measures taken nationwide in effort to curtail the Coronavirus outbreak.
Founded in 2017 by DéLana R.A. Dameron, BAFF has distributed more than $36,000 in funds raised from individuals to small Black arts organizations and fiscally-sponsored projects across the country, including the Center for Afrofuturist Studies, African American Shakespeare Company, Castle of Skins, viBe Theater Experience, and Cumbe: Center for African and Diaspora Dance. It is currently a donor advised fund with Brooklyn Community Foundation.
Black Art Futures Fund emerged out of the founder’s past experience as a Development Director and current experience as a consultant with small Black arts organizations, who are historically underfunded and disinvested by the wider philanthropic community, and not always seen as a philanthropic investment by individuals with high net worth—despite their long-standing commitments and service to the communities in which they reside, and the future communities they wish to serve, if ever fully capitalized.
Understanding the restrictive, and often slow, nature of foundation and government grant funding, BAFF arrived at a time where there was little-to-no unrestricted funds for small Black arts organizations or fiscally-sponsored projects.
“Together, the board [of BAFF] and I knew we wanted to try to do things ‘differently’ as a collaborative funding project powered by individuals—that is, quickly, with intention. We were explicit on who the fund is for: the benefit and uplifting of Black arts and artistry, and the communities they serve. I have no idea what we’re up against right now, but, I know that BAFF has an opportunity to lean into this moment of uncertainty and do exactly what we say we set out to do, and do it now,” says founder DéLana R.A. Dameron
In addition to the grant dollars, BAFF convenes small gatherings of individuals to impart the importance of supporting community-based programs, through the fund or not. It is powered through volunteer service from the founder to board, advisory board, and learning call and application reader volunteers. As a member of Grantmakers in the Arts, BAFF continues to advocate for the movement of resources, people, and dollars to support these important institutions without reservation. This moment is no different.
“The beauty of being ‘ungoverned’ as a collective of friends, new friends, cultural citizens, and others who are moving in the direction of a common goal—supporting small, Black arts organizations—is that we have a greater ability to be responsive to the reality of our core groups. A responsibility, even,” says Dameron.
The $35,000 available for emergency grants would have been Cycle 3 grant allocations, of which 32 organizations were actively in the process of completing an application. As the threat level [MOU1] began to rise, BAFF convened and agreed that it would not be the best use of the already capacity-strapped organizations’ time to complete the heavier lift of the application, and instead will offer the opportunity for those groups to request emergency funds, as well as current and former grantees. The collective boards are also kicking up its efforts to fundraise more dollars to be able to distribute more emergency funding to those Black arts organizations who need it now, and in the future. [MOU2]
“The world needs their work on the other side of this. We want to make sure small Black arts organizations are here tomorrow. And the next,” says Dameron.To donate to the Black Art Futures Fund, please visit www.blackartfutures.org.