​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Wallace Foundation is launching a five-year, $53 million initiative focused on arts organizations of color.​


Next Steps Under Way

The open call for our new initiative has closed. Thank you to all of the arts organizations of color who expressed interest in being part of the first cohort of arts organizations. And thank you to the researchers who submitted letters of intent for the first research study.

We will be reading through all letters of expression for the first cohort and expect to invite a small group of organizations for the next stage of interviews. If you are an arts organization of color with an annual budget of under $500,000, we are planning a second, larger cohort of smaller organizations. The selection process for that phase will begin in late 2022.

If you are a researcher, we are also planning additional research studies.

To be notified about these future steps and other news, please sign up to receive Wallace’s email bulletins. You can also find more about the initiative in the sections below and the FAQ. ​​​


Eligibility requirements for the first cohort are listed below. The initiative will include a second, larger cohort designed specifically for organizations with smaller budgets. Timing, eligibility criteria and the work that the second cohort will engage in will be determined at a later date.

To be eligible for consideration in the first cohort, organizations must:

Be based in the United States, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or Guåhan (Guam). Please note: We have expanded the list of eligible U.S. territories in response to an inquiry from a group of arts organizations;​
Be a registered nonprofit organization, or have an existing nonprofit fiscal sponsor;
Have an annual budget between $500,000 and $5 million (based on FY 2019 or FY 2020); 
Have been in operation for at least 10 years; and
Identify as an arts organization of color. 

​For the purposes of this initiative, we define an arts organization of color as one that was founded by (in either artistic or administrative leadership) and for Black, Indigenous, Hispanic/Latinx, Arab American or Asian American/Pacific Islander communities through mission-related work, and continues to serve those communities today.

Submissions from the following genres will be considered: performing arts, media arts, literary arts, visual arts, artists, community-based organizations founded by and centering artists and artistic practice. Heritage museums of color that include contemporary art and artists are eligible.​ 

Organizations whose primary mission is arts education, youth outcomes, professional development or continuing education are not eligible for this initiative. Wallace has separate initiatives in arts education. This initiative will focus on arts presenters with a reasonable degree of similarity so we can effectively manage the initiative and learn from their experiences.​

 Timeline for Initial Cohort

Round 1: Open call for expressions of interest: July 19 to August 20, 2021.
Deadline for letters of interest: August 20, 2021.
Wallace will invite 50 organizations to apply for grants.
Wallace will respond to letters of interest in the end of September.
Round 2: Grant applications for organizations invited to apply: Late September.
Deadline for applications: Friday, October 29.
Wallace will shortlist 15 to 20 organizations to participate in Round 3. 
Round 3: Interviews and site visits: December 2021 and January 2022.
Wallace will select 10 to 12 organizations to participate in the initiative.
Grantee selection will be announced in January 2022.
A planning year will begin in the first quarter of 2022​.
The first year of implementation will begin in 2023​.

 What Participation Entails

In addition to directly supporting the grantees as they foster strategic change at their organizations, a key goal of the initiative is to develop credible, useful insights to benefit other arts organizations of color and the field at large.

Participation in the first cohort will include working with coaches, consultants and researchers to document each grantee’s organizational history and culture through an ethnographic study. Researchers will also document practices and approaches during the initiative through an implementation study.

In service of the learning effort, grantees must commit to:

Participation in a planning year;
Executive-level participation in monthly meetings with Wallace staffers, consultants or independent researchers to collaborate and share information to inform the development of reports to benefit the field;
Executive-level participation in cohort learning, including attendance and participation at two convenings per year;
In the first year of the initiative, working closely with ethnographic researchers to document organizations' histories and cultures, as well as to document how they address strategic challenges; and
Collaborating with researchers documenting change efforts over the life of the project.

 About the Selection Process

The initiative will incorporate two cohorts. The first will be selected by January 2022 and comprise 10 to 12 organizations with annual budgets between $500,000 and $5 million. The second will be designed at a future date to focus on a larger number of smaller-budget organizations. 

We are now inviting expressions of interest from eligible organizations for the ​first cohort only.

Open Call

The open call for expressions of interest is the first step in the selection process. This stage of the application process has been designed to minimize the administrative burden on interested organizations.
With the goal of inclusion, Wallace aims to gather as comprehensive a list as possible of organizations meeting the eligibility requirements.
To submit an expression of interest, please complete this form by August 20, 2021.


Application Period

Based on the expressions of interest, approximately 50 organizations will be invited to complete a full application. Of those organizations, 10 to 12 will be selected to participate in the initiative through a more detailed application process that will include site visits, in person if reasonable and virtual if not.​

Planning Year

The five-year initiative begins with a planning year to develop shared purpose, create four-year implementation plans and refine the research questions.
Grantees will be funded for their participation in the planning year with a grant for general operations.
At the end of the planning year, Wallace and grantees will mutually decide on further participation. Grantees will either:
be invited to commit to the next four years of implementation and initiate their projects; or​
withdraw from the initiative, if the final direction of the initiative is not aligned with the organization’s needs and goals. Grantees who opt out will be released from commitments to the initiative and will instead receive a separate grant for general operations. ​​

 Benefits for Grantees

Organizations selected to participate in the initial cohort will receive the following:


Each organization selected to participate in the initiative will receive five years of funding totaling approximately $2 to 3 million. Funding allocations will be determined based on need and will be proportionate to budget sizes.
Grant funding will support activities that will enable organizations to explore with Wallace the relationship between community orientation, relevance and resilience. Activities include:
Participation in a planning year;​
Four years to implement and refine strategic change efforts; and
Participation in research related to the initiative.

Coaching Supports

Grantees will also receive coaching based on self-identified needs or wants.​
Examples of potential assistance may include staff or board development, strategic planning or other needs determined by the grantee.

Peer Learning

Grantees will work with and learn from each other by participating in cohort meetings (learning communities) that occur at least twice a year. The cohort will help determine the frequency of these meetings.

Contributions to the Field

As a result of their participation, grantees will contribute to the research effort that will develop new and useful knowledge to advance the field and lift up the unique practices and cultural histories of arts organizations of color. Cohort organizations will work with ethnographers to document their histories and organizational cultures, a resource we hope will benefit both the organization and the broader field.  They will also work with researchers to document how they address strategic challenges and to explore meaningful ways to document what happens as a result.   ​

​For Researchers Only


Instructions for submitting your research proposal by October 4, 2021 are included in the RFP. If you submitted a letter of intent, you will also receive notices of future research RFPs in the arts. ​

Background and Information


This new initiative is part of Wallace’s efforts to help foster equitable improvements in the arts, recognizing that leaders of arts organizations of color report their contributions are often overlooked and underfunded.

The initiative will include multiple research studies that document the histories and organizational cultures of participating organizations and study how these organizations' community-oriented approaches address strategic challenges. Questions and approaches will be refined in collaboration with cohort organizations.

The dual goals of the initiative are: 1) to support grantees in their work; and 2) by learning with and from grantees, to develop insights that can be shared with other arts organizations of color and the broader field to help improve practice and policy.

At this time, Wallace seeks to form an initial cohort of 10 to 12 arts organizations of color who meet eligibility requirements and are:

Interested in or planning to make strategic changes using community-oriented approaches;
Committed to contributing to the research base on the history and current practices of arts organizations of color; and
Interested in and well-suited to learn from other arts organizations of color.

Each grantee in the first cohort will receive five years of funding totaling approximately $2 to 3 million to develop and pursue efforts to foster strategic change through approaches that leverage their community orientation. Grantees will also receive coaching based on self-identified needs, participate in a peer learning community and engage in research studies to advance knowledge and lift up the field.

Before submitting, we encourage interested organizations to review the FAQ.​​​ In addition, should you have more questions, you are welcome to sign up for one of our optional, personalized information sessions. Please note there is no need to attend an optional information session in order to submit a letter of interest.​

Resources and Support

Read the initiative FAQ

Read the research RF​P​​ ​​

Still have questions? Email us at: ArtsOpenCall@wallacefoundation.org

*For the purposes of this o​pen call, the term ‘arts organizations of color’ describes organizations that were founded by and for communities of color. Wallace recognizes that no one umbrella term can accurately represent the plurality and diversity of arts organizations that serve communities of color, including Black, Indigenous, Middle Eastern and Arab American, Latinx and Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.​​​