Ford Foundation Grants to Aid Arts Spaces and Their Communities

At first this announcement from the Ford Foundation about a new $100 million grant scared me:

“As part of an effort to increase the impact of its giving, the Ford Foundation is to announce a plan on Monday to dedicate $100 million to the development of arts spaces nationwide over the next decade. The plan is by far the largest commitment the foundation has ever made to the construction, maintenance and enhancement of arts facilities.”

Oh great, more money poured into building new buildings. But then the article turned a corner:

“In addition to helping arts groups build new spaces and renovate and expand old ones, the latest initiative aims to encourage the construction of affordable housing for artists in or around some of these spaces and to spur economic development in their surrounding areas.”

“That group, Artspace Projects, has received more than $1 million toward, among other things, transforming an abandoned public school in East Harlem into such a development, in partnership with El Barrio’s Operation Fightback, a New York community organization.”

“The project is to include 72 units of housing for artists and their families and a large space that can be used for art exhibitions, cultural events, conferences and gatherings of community groups.”

“I think people are beginning to understand that spaces for artists and art are more than just buildings, structures,” she said [“Judilee Reed, executive director of LINC]. “The way these spaces animate their communities and the relationships they have to their communities is ripe for development.”

Maybe this is the beginning of something to get excited about.

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