Dear Friends,

This month we will mark a year since our lives changed.

I find myself doubling down on things I held near and true in the “before.” That art, and the preservation of it, can help us translate the unspeakable, and can help build the archive for the future. We’ll know where we have been and how and who because of art. 

Last March, Grantmakers in the Arts convened a panel of folks to speak to ways philanthropy could and should respond to what was then “only” the COVID-19 crisis. We were given just 1 slide and 6 minutes—a hard task before us. I used art to convey what I wanted to exist in my slides. By drawing them, I felt I was adding both visual differentiation to what was growing to be a 90-minute session with a lot of text and an image that would hopefully stick with folks long after the presentation.

I hope we continue to press philanthropy towards some of these ideas in the next few months / years—especially as we understand that the pandemic is enduring and the effects of white supremacy are constant. To summarize what I’m pushing for philanthropy to continue to do in this “new year”: 

  1. Move as many resources ($$) as you can—quickly.
  2. Allow groups a sense of security by urging them to use resources ($$) to secure the bottom of their pyramids first.
  3. Infuse the field with generous operating support and removing programmatic restrictions.
  4. Communicate quickly to relieve organizations’ anxiety about current and future funding, etc.
  5. Accept that we are the first responders for arts and culture.

Right now is the time to renew our commitments, as best we can, to the field. Right now is the time to continue to dig deep to ensure culture is here for the future.

At Red Olive, we are thinking of ways to continue to carry forth these ideas into a 4-cycle BAFF granting period, and more to come. With our clients, pushing them to think about COVID as a long-term impact on programs and fundraising—how do we continue to intervene and present and preserve the arts, with its community of supporters, in light of that?

But also: Seeking moments of rest. Accepting that we are the emergency response team for the field means that our ability to “turn off” feels something like a let down, a betrayal. For 2021, we are looking at quarterly rest periods starting with a resurgence of “Spring Break.” This month, from March 15-17th, our offices will be closed—maybe our eyes too!

How are y’all resting and renewing after a year of extraordinary ways of existing, working, loving, living?

In Black love,  

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