THRIVE! Uplifting Theatres of Color - Facts about funding for BITOC

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This grant program is being offered with generous support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (arts@ddcf.org).

The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is to improve the quality of people’s lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and the prevention of child abuse, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke’s properties. For more information, you can visit www.ddcf.org.

What are the facts about funding for BITOC?

Historically, BITOC have been acutely affected by funding inequities. The majority of BITOC survive on budgets of less than $3 million a year and have been made more vulnerable due to the devastation of the converging pandemics of COVID-19 and ongoing racial injustices. 

Well before the current health and economic crises, a 2017 Helicon study confirmed that "... despite important efforts by many leading foundations, funding overall had been less equitable, not more, in the five years before the study. Merely 2% of all cultural institutions receive nearly 60% of all contributed revenues...People of color represent 37% of the [U.S.] population, but just 4% of all foundation arts funding is allocated to groups whose primary mission is to serve communities of color."

2020 data gathered by Candid through the Foundation Center and GuideStar shows that only 7% of philanthropic dollars directly support BIPOC communities and just 3% specifically serves disabled people. Meanwhile, Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming communities receive only .015% or a penny for every $100.

The pandemic has exacerbated an already precarious quality of life for BIPOC. As we learned from The New York Times after they sued the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2020 to acquire information and national data, “Black and Latinx communities have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus in a widespread manner that spans the country.” During the pandemic, the Navajo Nation has had higher COVID-19 numbers per capita than all of New York City. The Center for Effective Philanthropy released a June 2020 survey of the COVID-19 impact on nonprofits. While COVID-19 has had “devastating impacts on nonprofits, the negative impacts have been magnified for nonprofits that provide direct services and serve historically disadvantaged communities.” 

Funding inequities are systemic and local patterns mirror national ones. BIPOC communities are hardest hit by the pandemic, and by extension, BIPOC theatres that directly serve those communities are more negatively impacted than others.