Michelle Comments for The Stage

16th August, 2019

‘Deficit’ in donations to black-led arts companies is target of new scheme

A new initiative has been set up to encourage donations to black-led arts organisations.

Yvette Griffith, executive director of music organisation Jazz Re:freshed, has set up the Black Arts Philanthropy Project with the aim of tackling a “deficit” in donations to black-led companies. Griffiths is working in partnership with Michelle Wright of social enterprise Cause4.

The project has launched with a survey to gather data of the current climate for philanthropy in relation to black-led organisations.

As part of the initiative, Griffith aims to hold forums with existing black philanthropists and to educate potential new supporters of the arts.

The initiative will then work towards setting up a grant-giving foundation for black-led arts companies, following an in-depth feasibility study.

Griffith believes there is a “deficit” in philanthropy because black arts organisations receive a lower share of general funding, and so are unable to employ a member of staff to focus specifically on fundraising.

She said that of 25 black-led organisations she had spoken to, only one had a dedicated fundraiser. Initial research suggested the average donation size was £50.

“It was my responsibility to do the fundraising as well as the executive directorship of my organisation, and it’s really difficult to focus time on anything outside of grant-writing in terms of fundraising when you are already punching above your weight as an arts organisation,” Griffith said.

“I’d like to see a more level playing field artistically, I’d like to see black arts organisations being given more opportunities to grow and more money to compete with the institutions.”

Griffith added that the initiative would initially focus on galvanising support from black philanthropists, but would not be limited to this.

Wright said: “We are encouraged as arts organisations to think about the importance of a diverse workforce, diverse boards and diverse audiences, but there is often little thinking about how we can encourage more diversity among our donors.

“All too often, we are all chasing the same white, middle-class donor pool – those we know who are trusted supporters of arts, culture and heritage.

“As our communities in the UK become more diverse, we need to work much harder to understand and engage them.”


You can read the original article by Giverny Masso for The Stage here.


“Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy has changed the game for arts fundraising as Clore did for leadership.”

Phil Gibby, Director Arts Council England, South West