Art Market

Five foundations pledged $1.7 billion in funding to social justice and the arts in response to COVID-19.

Justin Kamp
Jun 12, 2020 5:16PM, via The Art Newspaper

Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. Photo by Stefanie Keenan via Getty Images for Hammer Museum.

Five U.S. charities announced that they would collectively dole out an additional $1.7 billion to nonprofit organizations over the next two years to counter the long-term economic damage wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. The five donors—the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation—will distribute the new funds to causes spanning social justice to arts and culture initiatives.

The individual pledged amounts begin at $100 million from the Doris Duke Foundation. From there, the MacArthur Foundation is committing $125 million; the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, $200 million; the W.K. Kellogg, $300 million; and finally, the Ford Foundation committing $1 billion.

The Ford Foundation, the Doris Duke Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation, will be borrowing money in order to increase the amount of funds available for disbursement, according to The Art Newspaper. The Mellon and Kellogg foundations have not yet finalized their funding strategies.

A statement on the Ford Foundation website reads in part:

Nonprofits and the critical services they provide have never been more necessary, yet more than half of these organizations struggle to become financially sustainable and meet that demand. In fact, the majority of nonprofits have six months or less in cash reserves, putting them in a precarious position at times of emergency. And now with the rapid spread of COVID-19, the entire nonprofit sector is at risk of being fundamentally upended by the virus and its economic fallout.

The announcement comes as art institutions across the world struggle with long-term financial security in the face of a vastly different pandemic landscape. A pair of studies released in May found that 13 percent of museums worldwide could close due to the coronavirus, while an ADAA survey found that galleries across the United States have projected a 73 percent loss in income.

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Justin Kamp