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BIPOC Ky. artists could get a piece of a new, major funding initiative

Roger Sondrup

Kentucky artists who are Black, Indigenous or people of color (BIPOC) have an opportunity to receive both monetary and developmental support through a new program from Atlanta-based South Arts

The initiative is aimed at supporting BIPOC-led arts and cultural organizations over the next three years with about $5 million in funding, said vice president of programming Joy Young. South Arts is a nonprofit focused on uplifting and highlighting Southern artists.

The new program, called Southern Cultural Treasures, will create a cohort of arts and culture organizations that focus on BIPOC in their audience and overall leadership. Eligible organizations can come from a variety of disciplines, including visual art, film, folk art and performing art. 

Cohort members will have access to operational grants up to $300,000 and project grants up to $7,500 over the course of the three-year program that begins next May.

Young said this funding is critical. She said the goal is to make up not only for money lost during the pandemic but also due to historical underfunding of BIPOC organizations.

“This creates an opportunity to begin creating systems and structures for more — more funding, more networking, more access to other funders,” Young said.

The program also will allow cohort members to connect with one another and network with possible funders within the local community.

The initiative comes from a collaboration with the Ford Foundation, which provided half the funding.

Southern Cultural Treasures is a part of the larger America’s Cultural Treasures initiative from the Ford Foundation, but focuses on the southeastern United States.

“We really wanted to take an opportunity to acknowledge the richness of the cultural and artistic history here in the American South in our nine-state region,” Young said.

Nine states are included: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. 

There is a three-step application process, starting with interested organizations submitting letters stating their intention to participate.

Interested organizations can apply using the South Arts grant portal.

From there, South Arts will narrow the field through a full application process and interviews. The final group of 12-15 organizations is slated to be announced and begin the program in May 2022.

Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.

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