Celestial Navigation: How to Fund Culture Change in the U.S.

If there was ever a moment for cultural strategy and investment in Black, Indigenous, and artists of color, it is now. Amid a global pandemic and a national uprising against systemic racism, we are witnessing the power of artists, cultural organizers, and storytellers to disrupt the status quo, spark public dialogue, and imagine a more just future.

A new report Celestial Navigation: How to Fund Culture Change in the U.S. offers a roadmap on how funders can provide artists and cultural strategy organizations with the support that they need — now and moving forward.

The report’s recommendations sprang from the January 2020 Constellations Convening, which brought together 80+ artists, cultural organizers, and culture workers to clarify their space and role in narrative change and to strategize how to strengthen the field of culture strategy. It emphasizes the need to invest in Artist Disruptors who actively use their work to undo systems of oppression and domination.

The report lays out three recommendations for funders to anchor the emerging field of art and social justice:

    • Invest directly in Artist Disruptors with no strings attached. Funders should consider offering multi-year, holistic general operating support for artists of color without the strings commonly tied to project-based support.
    • Provide general support to cultural strategy organizations working at the intersections of art and social justice.
    • Invest in time-bound experiments that connect organizations and artists across the field to advance strategy and leadership. 

The report also outlines criteria for philanthropic partners to find and vet potential artists and organizations that exist at the nexus of arts and culture and social justice.

Watch the Funders Briefing

> Read the report

Celestial Navigation Report: How to Fund Culture Change in the U.S.

Celestial Navigations’ field-building recommendations were crafted by: BRIC: Kristina Newman-Scott, Sharon Polli, Tony Horn, Vanessa Hadox, & Claire Kim | The Center for Cultural Power: Favianna Rodriguez, Tara Dorabji, Natasha Huey & James Kass | Detroit Narrative Agency: ill Weaver, Ryan Pearson, & Cornetta Lane Smith | Firelight Media: Sonya Childress | First Peoples Fund: Lori Pourier & Mary Bordeaux | Intelligent Mischief: Terry Marshall | Race Forward: Nayantara Sen & Jeff Chang | SMU Meadows Ignite/Arts: Clyde Valentin & Liz Sankarsingh | Surdna Foundation: F. Javier Torres-Campos, Robert Smith III, & Mekaelia Davis