Joyce Foundation on the future of funding artists

The Joyce Foundation may be based in Chicago, but it has funded plenty of art in the Twin Cities. Each year the Joyce Awards grant artists of color $50,000 to create new works with cultural institutions.

Remember Wing Young Huie’s University Avenue Project? That was funded by the Joyce Awards. Other recent projects include a collaborations between choreographer Uri Sands and the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, and playwright Naomi Iizuka with the Children’s Theatre Company.

In fact, Angelique Power, the Joyce Foundation’s Senior Program Officer for Culture, says Twin Cities artists have often been the recipient of Joyce Awards, which are spread out across the Great Lakes district.

Actually the Twin Cities has dominated the Joyce Awards. Because this is such a supportive arts community and the quality of work is so high, we’ve actually had many Joyce Awardees come from the Twin Cities – some years we’ve had two out of the four winners come from the Twin Cities.

Power is in the Twin Cities to check on a recent project coming to fruition – Hannibal Lokumbe’s collaboration with Vocalessence (more on that tomorrow). But today she’s also meeting with artists to talk about changes to how the Joyce Foundation grants money.

Specifically, the foundation will no longer be granting awards to artists working with cultural institutions. Instead Power says the foundation wants to see proposals from artists who want to work with institutions that are not strictly cultural.

We’re following the lead of different artists and frankly a lot of cultural institutions that are stretching themselves beyond the gallery, beyond the theater seats, beyond the symphony halls and are working more intrinsically in the communities that surround them.

Power says the new direction is also in response to rhetoric about the arts being a “luxury item.”

The arts are a critical part of our lives and livelihood. So if we can make a difference by giving a gift of $50,000 to artists that are doing these incredibly impactful projects, then hopefully we can shift the conversation some.

The Joyce Foundation informational meeting takes place today from noon to 1:30pm in Open Book in Minneapolis.

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