Freedom, Justice, and Immigrant Mentorships: Ford's Arts Strategy in Action

Monday, October 23, 2017

Freedom, Justice, and Immigrant Mentorships: Ford's Arts Strategy in Action

A few months after partnering with collector Agnes Gund to create the Art for Justice Fund to advance criminal justice reform in the United States, the Ford Foundation announced its 2017 #ArtofChange Fellows who are "advancing freedom, justice, inclusion, and democracy through art."

Around the same time, Ford also expanded its support to the New York Foundation (NYFA) for the Arts’ Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program.

These developments align with Ford's overarching strategy of combating inequality, working in an arts philanthropy space where funders are increasingly exploring the intersection of art and activism.  

Freedom and Justice

This year marks the second class of Ford's #ArtofChange fellows, albeit with a slight twist: this year, fellows are focused on the specific theme of "exploring freedom and justice in America." 

"The artists and cultural leaders selected for Art of Change fellowships all have a demonstrated commitment to social justice, and reflect a powerful diversity of experiences and creative voices," said Ford’s announcement early this month. "Drawn from a wide range of artistic fields, the fellows span generations, backgrounds, geographies, and life experiences—and together tell a rich and varied American story."

The yearlong fellowship comes with unrestricted stipends of $50,000 for individuals and $75,000 for collaborative teams. Check out the full list of fellows here.

Ford, of course, is but one of many other funders—which include A Blade of Grass, Shelly and Donald Rubin Foundation, and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation—that's navigating the relationship between the arts and activism. The fellowship, coupled with its partnership with Agnes Gund, underscores its commitment to generate meaningful social change through the arts.

Ford's fellowship falls within its Creativity and Free Expression division, which awards grants in the fields of arts and culture, documentary and emerging media, and journalism. The division’s efforts are organized through two lines of work—Social Justice Storytelling and 21st Century Arts and Media Infrastructure—that connect with others across the foundation.

Recent news finds the Creative and Free Expression connecting with another an important line of work, immigrant rights.

A Focus on Immigrant Artists

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