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Wright Museum, Arab American National Museum Included in $156 Million Grant Effort

posted on: Sep 26, 2020

SOURCE: DETROIT FREE PRESS

BY: JULIE HINDS

Detroit’s Charles H. Wright National Museum and Dearborn’s Arab American National Museum will receive a major boost from a $156 million grant initiative to help fund arts organizations being hailed as “America’s Cultural Treasures.”

Sixteen prominent donors and foundations are joining forces on the national and regional effort announced Thursday to help fund Black, Latinx, Asian, and Indigenous arts organizations that have taken a huge hit financially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The national part of the initiative is led by a $50 million investment by the Ford Foundation. It will give $81 million to 20 groups that are “significant national anchors for artistic and cultural diversity in America.”

The national grants will range from $1 million to $6 million for each organization. That amount is expected to cover significant chunks of each group’s operating budget. Each group also will get up to $100,000 for what’s described as “organizational capacity building” in areas like digital strategies.

Wright Museum, Arab American National Museum Included in $156 Million Grant Effort

Leaders of the Wright Museum and the Arab American National Museum said the grants will have a huge positive impact.

“We applaud the Ford Foundation for its vision in making these grants available to the cultural sector at such a critical time,“ said Neil Barclay. president and CEO of the Wright Museum. “Arts organizations have been particularly hard hit by the recent economic downturn and civil unrest.  The Wright’s budget was reduced by more than 40 percent, as a result of recent events and mostly due to the reduction in earned revenues.

Barclay said the Ford grant will be “a lifeline to sustain the Wright in both the short and long term, providing much needed operating support to our organization, as we weather the current crisis and foreseeable future.”

Diana Abouali, director of the Arab American National Museum, said via email that the gift means many things to the Dearborn-based institution.

“It is recognition of the excellent work the museum has been doing consistently for the past 15 years documenting, preserving and promoting the history, culture and contributions of Arab Americans. It is an acknowledgement of the important and enriching contributions that communities like ours make to the cultural life of this nation,” said Abouali

“The award will allow the museum to remain operational during these difficult times, and position us well in the months and years ahead to continue doing the work we do. We are so grateful for the Ford Foundation’s confidence in our work and our mission.”

The specific amounts of the grants were not released.

Besides the Wright Museum and the AANM, the organizations receiving grants are Alaska Native Heritage Center, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Apollo Theater, Ballet Hispanico, Dance Theater of Harlem, East West Players, El Museo del Barrio, Japanese American National Museum, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, Museum of Chinese in the Americas, Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, National Museum of Mexican Art, Penumbra Theatre, Project Row Houses, Studio Museum in Harlem, Urban Bush Women, and Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience.

In an official statement, Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation said, “These organizations represent the very highest ideals of artistic excellence and are truly America’s cultural treasures. We hope that other arts philanthropists and corporations will join in increasing support to the many cultural organizations that reflect our nation’s rich and diverse history.”

Recipients of upcoming regional initiatives are set to be announced in early 2021.