​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Request for Proposals​​

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​Arts Organizations Centering Communities of Color:

Community ​​​Orientation Study



Starting January 2022
up to $3,200,000

LETTERS OF INTENT DUE: August 20, 2021
PROPOSALS DUE: October 4, 2021


Across the nation there are thousands of arts organizations that were founded by, for, and with communities of color. These organizations span the visual, performing, media, and literary arts and include arts education organizations, community-based organizations, and numerous supporting organizations. Although there is more variation than likeness across these organizations—involving a range of factors including artistic focus, community served, location, purpose, organizational culture, and mission—research suggests that many have, in their founding missions and continuing practices, and at the core of their organizational strategy, a deep and intertwined commitment to excellence in artistic practice and production along with a strong community orientation (Hally & Valdez, 2000; Voss & Voss, 2021). “Community orientation” has been described, across the literature, as preserving or presenting the artforms of a particular racial/ethnic group, supporting artists from that community, developing the cultural workforce of that community, and advocating for the community within the broader socio-political context, among other activities.

Although there is a body of compelling research on the relationship between arts practices and communities of color (e.g., Banks, 2019a; Cuyler, 2021; Dávila, 2000, 2012; Grams, 2010; Widener, 2010), the breadth and complexity of the field of arts organizations of color, is not fully documented. To address this gap, several landscaping or mapping efforts have been conducted in the past (e.g., Dao-Shah & Faust, 2018; Matlon, Van Haastrecht, & Mengüç, 2014; Peterson, 1997) and are currently underway (e.g., Promise Zone Arts in LA, HueArts in New York). Other studies and surveys of the field have documented a range of features of the ecosystem of arts organizations of color, thus enhancing its visibility and revealing its complexity, richness and texture to existing and potential stakeholders. Much of this work is led by field leaders, associations, organizers, and advocates with an eye toward addressing pressing structural and strategic concerns that relate to the health and thrivability of the field (e.g., Ardali, 1989; Asia Society, 1989; Bowles, 1993; Cuyler, 2014; Nishimura, Sampath, Le, Mahar & Valenzuela, 2020; Sidford, 2011; Sidford & Frasz 2017; Yancey, 2018). These studies investigate how the diverse array of arts organizations of color leverage particular assets and navigate structural challenges in fulfilling their missions, developing their organizations, contributing to their communities, and enriching the broader cultural ecosystem in which they are situated. The literature also includes a body of deeply theorized scholarship that situates the study of arts organizations of color within a broader sociological, anthropological, or organizational context, to build understanding of cultural institutions and formations (e.g., Banks, 2019b; Blackwood & Purcell, 2014; Davalos, 2001; DiMaggio & Fernández-Kelly, 2010; Fleming & Roses, 2010; Moreno, 2004). Collectively, these different types of studies reveal the role and impacts of cultural institutions in their communities, including how structural forces such as racism and gentrification shape possibilities and outcomes for many. Such findings can serve as important resources for the cultural field (organizational leaders, staff, boards, and funders), as well as for policymakers and others who are not yet part of the field, for developing a diverse and robust cultural ecosystem.

1.1 The Initiative
By January 2022, The Wallace Foundation intends to launch an initiative that will support a cohort of 10-12 arts organizations of color that, in their second decade or more of existence, are grappling with strategic challenges to their founding organizational model or context. Adopting a strengths-based approach, collectively the cohort will address the following guiding question: How can and do arts organizations of color facing strategic challenges leverage their experience and histories of community orientation to increase their resilience, while sustaining their relevance? Strategic challenges will be identified by the cohort’s members and will likely involve a blend of organization-specific challenges (e.g., cost structures, location, partnerships) and structural challenges (e.g., racism, chronic undercapitalization, shifting community demographics). The purpose of the initiative is to support and document a strength-based approach to navigating these strategic challenges.

In Year 1, members of the cohort will receive a planning grant to develop, with their organizational leadership teams, a 4-year project plan to test, in their own context, the initiative’s guiding question. In Years 2-5, organizations will be funded to (1) implement their project plans, adjusting and refining them as needed, (2) receive targeted technical assistance at their request, (3) participate in the community orientation research study, described in this RFP, and (4) participate in a professional learning community with one another, and with initiative researchers, key consultants, and Wallace staff.

The Wallace Foundation seeks a research team, or collaborating team of researchers, with a deep understanding of arts organizations of color and their relationships with the communities they serve, across the diversity of communities and arts disciplines that constitute this part of the arts ecosystem. The team will study and document the five years of project work, including the planning year, of the cohort’s 10-12 organizations using theoretically and methodologically rigorous approaches to:

  • Contribute to the research-based body of evidence on cultural institutions, and specifically arts organizations of color.
  • Provide practical, formative insights for the cohort’s arts organizations, and the initiative leaders, as their projects are implemented.
  • Develop evidence-based, practical guidance that can inform other arts organizations in the field, particularly other arts organizations of color, and their stakeholders.

For the purposes of this initiative, the Foundation is defining arts organizations of color as those that were founded by (in either artistic or administrative leadership) and for Black, Indigenous, Hispanic/Latinx, Arab American, or Asian American / Pacific Islander communities through their mission-related work, and continue to serve those communities today.We recognize that the term “arts organizations of color” may be problematic for some, and one hoped-for outcome of this initiative is that better language and terms are co-developed by the practitioners and scholars participating in the initiative. Eligible arts organizations of color must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Have a primary mission and focus of engaging the public with the arts, including the performing arts, media arts, literary arts, and visual arts. Community-based organizations founded by and centering artists and artistic practice and heritage museums of color that include contemporary art and artists are eligible. Organizations that are primarily focused on arts education, youth outcomes, professional development, or continuing education are not eligible.
  • Have an annual FY19 or FY20 budget of $500,000–$5,000,000.
  • Have been in operation for at least 10 years.
  • Be based in the 50 United States, District of Columbia, or Puerto Rico.
  • Be a nonprofit organization (501c3) or have an existing non-profit fiscal sponsor.

The cohort is expected to be identified by January 2022. We anticipate that it will represent a balance of artistic genres and organizational characteristics. We expect that the cohort will be more or less evenly distributed across racial/ethnic communities as well as geographically diverse. Research teams responding to this RFP should include scholars and/or advisors and consultants, or plans for identifying them, with expertise across the expected broad range of organizational profiles.

In addition to the Community Orientation Study described in this RFP, the Foundation will be supporting the following other research efforts as a part of this initiative:

  • Ethnographies of the histories and organizational cultures of each of the cohort’s organizations, to be conducted during 2022-23 by early-career Research Fellows selected and sponsored by the Brooklyn-based Social Science Research Council.
  • A set of field-initiated landscape studies, documenting important aspects of the state of the field (RFP by early 2022).
  • A set of research-practice partnerships between arts organizations or networks and early-career scholars of color to explore issues of mutual importance to research and practice (RFP in 2022).
  • A research study relevant to a second cohort of smaller arts organizations of color, to be developed collaboratively with that cohort (RFP likely by 2023).

The aim of this suite of studies is to contribute to the evidence base regarding an important and, relative to other sectors, under-documented sector of the arts. The Wallace Foundation has at the core of its philanthropic strategy a commitment to supporting the productive use of evidence-based practices across its areas of investment in the arts, youth development, and education leadership (see next section). The evidence base in the arts, writ large, is compelling but less developed than the other sectors in which Wallace works. The research portfolio described above is anticipated to make a modest, but, we hope, important and methodologically rigorous contribution to expanding that evidence base in the arts in ways that can guide practice, policy, and future research. We expect the results of the research to be used by arts organization leaders, researchers, advocates, and funders as they seek to learn from and advance the field. This research is not intended to be used solely for advocacy purposes but also for enriching understanding, including theory and method, and thus should also be of interest to scholars and academics. Thus proposals should include deliverables serving these different purposes and audiences. We also intend these studies to support early career and emerging scholars of color, from fields such as sociology, anthropology, psychology, and the learning sciences, among others, who are interested in issues of relevance to the arts. In this way we hope that the portfolio can contribute to building the bench of researchers of color who, over the long haul, can work in deep partnership with arts organizations of color and other cultural organizations in and of the field.

Based in New York City, The Wallace Foundation is the philanthropic legacy of DeWitt and Lila Wallace, founders of the Reader’s Digest. Wallace is one of the nation’s 60 largest independent, charitable foundations. Our mission is to foster equity and improvements in learning and enrichment for young people and in the arts for everyone. We are a national foundation, supporting work across the United States without a focus on any one community or region.

The Wallace Foundation takes a unique approach for a private foundation. Most of our work is carried out through large-scale, multi-year initiatives designed to accomplish dual goals. The first is to support our grantees (such as arts organizations) to create value for those they serve by developing and strengthening their work at the local level. Our second goal is to add value to the field as a whole by designing initiatives that address important unanswered policy and practice questions, commissioning researchers to document and analyze what is learned by Wallace grantees as they participate in the initiative, and then sharing these findings with practitioners, policymakers and influencers in order to catalyze improvements more broadly. In this way, we aim to use the development of research-based insights and evidence as a lever to help institutions, beyond those we fund directly, enrich and enhance their work.

Our three focus areas are the arts, K-12 education leadership, and youth development. We conceptualize our initiatives as learning collaborations among the grantee organizations, researchers, technical assistance providers, and Wallace staff who together explore questions with implications for practice, policy, and research. Wallace staff, with experience and expertise in program, communications, and research, work collaboratively on all aspects of the initiative.

2.1 Research and Equity
Wallace is committed to supporting research that is designed and conducted with and for equity. To inform strategies for change, research proposals should use strength-based approaches and be designed to shed light on structures, systems, processes, or practices that produce or reproduce inequities. Research itself should be equity-centered—including partnerships and processes that center the voices and perspectives of communities that would stand to use or benefit from the research. Research teams should include principal investigators and other senior intellectual contributors with relevant lived experiences. Theoretical frameworks should account for systemic forms of exclusion or marginalization; research methods, from data collection to analysis, should clearly articulate how the use of such frameworks will lead to new insights and understanding at both a practical and conceptual level, and how they can support the development of strength-based change strategies.

The Wallace Foundation has a long history of supporting arts organizations. Over the past 25 years, the Foundation has made grants totaling approximately $335 million to more than 700 programs in the arts with an emphasis on building audiences, increasing accessibility, and strengthening community partnerships. In the 1990s and 2000s several initiatives supported arts organizations, community organizations, and artists to form partnerships and design new ways for arts organizations to engage with their communities and for communities to interface with the arts.

Over time, this work evolved to focus on strategies for audience engagement. Most recently, the 2015-2019 Building Audiences for Sustainability initiative focused on exploring approaches to reaching new audiences in ways that contributed to financial health. While summative research on this important work is not yet complete, practical lessons learned include the need to develop more nuanced understandings of target audiences and to more deeply understand the relationship between relevance and resilience.

Indeed, a study commissioned by Wallace last year found that financially high-performing organizations in the SMU DataArts database called out high quality programming standards, effective management practices, and a community orientation as the cornerstones of their success (Voss & Voss, 2020). In a follow-up study, interviews with organizational leaders of the highest performing arts organizations of color in the database found that these leaders emphasized the importance of a community orientation even more strongly, describing how community was built into their founding missions and was inseparable from their artistic programming standards of excellence (Voss & Voss, 2021).

Through engagement with the field, we have identified four primary ways that arts organizations of color report engaging their communities: (1) presenting and preserving the art forms or works of a particular cultural community, (2) supporting and advancing practicing artists of that community, (3) building the cultural workforce, and (4) advocating for their communities (Hally & Valdez, 2000; Matlon et al., 2014). Citing DiMaggio and Fernandez-Kelly (2010), Reisman and Steger (2020, unpublished manuscript) suggested that arts organizations can operate as fences and/or bridges for their communities. They provide sanctioned and intergenerational cultural spaces for connecting and celebrating cultural heritage, and they provide important contexts for introducing and engaging new audiences to and with those histories:

Different BIPOC organizations may use art in different ways. Art can be used as a fence, to strengthen in-group solidarity, tradition, and visibility, and as a bridge, to facilitate communication, combat stereotypes, and craft hybrid identities. Art is used as a method of social mobility or a mode of political action, or may be employed for the purposes of advancing aesthetics, autonomy, problem solving, [navigating] gentrification, or empowerment.

At a time when the field of arts organizations writ large is grappling with its role in and relationship to systemic racism, accelerating downward trends in financial support, changing audience behavior patterns, and other structural aspects of organizational resilience, documenting the community-oriented priorities and practices of arts organizations of color might help not only other arts organizations of color, but also deepen the broader field’s understanding of the relationship between community orientation, relevance and resilience.

The initiative Wallace will launch by January 2022 will bring together a cohort of arts organizations of color who seek to achieve greater organizational resilience in the face of strategic challenges, while retaining their relevance. Participating organizations will identify strategic moves they can make that leverage their community orientation in order to build new relationships, platforms, or programs that address their strategic challenge. As described above, in the first year, organizations will receive planning support and technical assistance (if/as requested) for planning and implementing their four-year community ​​orientation projects. In the subsequent four years they will receive funds to implement and iteratively refine those projects. We could imagine that some projects might center on facilities, others might integrate digital platforms, some might involve reaching new artistic audiences, others might focus on new strategic partnerships. Although we do not yet know what the projects will be, we believe it is important to bring a team of researchers into the process early, during the planning year, to (1) develop relationships, trust, and understanding with the grantee organizations as they develop their plans and cohort relationships; (2) assist the organizations in developing theoretically coherent project logic models, which can serve to guide the research as well as the implementation; and (3) refine the research questions and plan through deeper understanding of the contexts in which it will be carried out. We are thus seeking research teams that are flexible, responsive, collaborative, and insightful about the issues described above, in particular with regard to how arts organizations of color are oriented to community.

We anticipate research plans will therefore include a ramp up year focused primarily on relationships and planning, followed by four years of data collection while projects are implemented. We imagine that research plans will need to extend into a sixth year, after the cohort activities are completed, in order to finalize research publications and deliverables. That said, engaging the field with research findings, conjectures, and insights should not wait six years. Plans should include an ongoing series of research deliverables, across the duration of the initiative, that provide both formative feedback to the cohort and share emerging findings or challenges that are salient to the field. Prioritizing the integrity of the research, research plans should include the production of relevant, usable, and timely insights in the forms of research briefs, reflections, frameworks, and other kinds of research products.

4.1 Study Purpose
The purpose of the study is to document and understand how arts organizations of color leverage community orientation strategies to enhance their organizational resilience, while retaining or enhancing their relevance. As noted above, we currently understand community orientation among arts organizations of color as occurring within one or more of four approaches: presenting and preserving the art forms or works of a particular cultural community, supporting and advancing practicing artists of that community, building the cultural workforce, and advocating for their communities. Further detailing these approaches and identifying additional or alternative forms of community orientation, and how they can be strategically leveraged, would be a valuable contribution of this study.

Documentation should include what organizations seek to do and why, how it builds on their histories of and strategies for community orientation, the challenges and opportunities they face during implementation, and what happens as a result. We anticipate that the emerging results of the ethnographies (see Section 1.1 above) will serve as major resources to the team leading the Community Orientation Study, and research designs should explain how they anticipate using them. As noted above, we expect, but do not know, that the projects the arts organizations undertake could be as varied as new municipal partnerships, digital platform offerings, satellite programs or facilities, or a range of other approaches suited to the history, goals, and contexts in which organizations are situated. Research plans should be flexible enough to bring in necessary expertise as the projects become clearer, over Year 1, and as they adapt and are refined or even completely re-thought during the four years of implementation.

An important dimension of “what happens as a result” would include research strategies that could explore how organizations define success as well as expand documentation strategies for demonstrating impacts, outcomes, and contributions of the arts organizations to their various stakeholders, constituents, and community ecosystems. The field of arts organizations, like many others, contends with ongoing challenges to demonstrate impact in ways that are compelling, authentic, and rigorous. Identifying models and methods for such documentation approaches could be an important contribution of this study.

4.2 Central Questions
Ultimately, the research is intended to better understand how community orientation can work in concert with other factors to contribute to relevance and resilience. It is also meant to better understand the relationship between relevance and resilience. Below we list the study’s key questions—research designs should address all three topical areas, but we invite proposers to modify, elaborate, or add to these questions as they develop their research questions. Proposers should indicate how answers to their questions will yield practical guidance for the cohort’s arts organizations as well as advance the practical and scholarly knowledge base. They should also propose methods for collaborating with the arts grantees to refine research questions as the theory of action, logic models, and plans become clearer in Year 1.

  1. Relationship of Community Orientation to Relevance and Resilience. How do the 10-12 participating arts organizations leverage their experiences and histories of community orientation in ways that enhance their relevance and resilience? How do they define community orientation, relevance and resilience and how do they see these concepts relating to one another? What do they do in their projects and why? What does community orientation look like? How do their plans change over the four years, and why? How do these strategies build on or deviate from the organizational histories and mission? What are the commonalities and differences across organizations?
  2. Contextual Factors Specific and Not Specific to Arts Organizations of Color. What particular assets and practices do the 10-12 participating arts organizations leverage in their implementation processes, and how do these practices vary across cultural communities? What larger systemic forces, such as racism, gentrification and others do they contend with and how do they navigate them?
  3. Documenting and/or Measuring Impacts and Contributions. How do the 10-12 cohort arts organizations define, benchmark, and document progress or success in their implementation projects? What forms of documentation compellingly demonstrate how their efforts contribute both to their own organizational resilience and relevance and to the cultural fabric of the ecosystems they inhabit? How might these forms of documentation inform future evaluation approaches for these organizations and others engaged in similar work?

Research designs will be assessed on the clarity, theoretical and methodological rigor, and depth of the research questions, methods, analytical approach, and deliverables. Designs must reflect the expected variation across sites, as described above, and be explicit about how the research approach can both be responsive to local contexts and address overarching research questions in ways that can advance the knowledge base as well as learning within and during the initiative. It is important that research designs are explicit about how results will (a) inform practice in ways not currently found in the evidence base, (b) fill gaps in the evidence base, and (c) inform the initiative (the collaborative work of the cohort, with Wallace, researchers, and others) as it unfolds.

4.3 Deliverables
In addition to the co-development of logic models for each of the participating arts organizations, research teams should propose deliverables that will be of use to both the cohort arts organizations and the larger field (both practical and scholarly). Thus, we invite proposers to suggest the deliverables (reports, memos, cases, research briefs, etc.) that this study will produce that can, in a time-sensitive manner:

  1. Inform the broader field of scholarship on and practice in arts organizations of color.
  2. Serve as resources to the initiative’s arts organizations both during the initiative and in future activities.
  3. Directly inform the other studies that are a part of this initiative, to reduce the data collection burden on the participating arts organizations and enrich the other studies. By this we mean what kinds of findings, if any, might be available to share, and when, with researchers leading the other studies in the portfolio described above (landscape, RPPs, smaller organizations).

Timeliness, relevance, and practical use of research deliverables will be important considerations in the review of the proposals. Proposals should consider both formal (e.g., published) and informal (e.g., updates, collaborative analysis workshops, etc.) products of value and benefit to the 10-12 research grantees in the cohort.

While all Wallace Foundation-funded initiatives have extensive collaboration, communication, and dissemination activities, this initiative, because of its multiple studies, will have greater and more complicated collaboration requirements. Please read this section carefully so that your proposal can both respond to and budget for activities and requirements described here.

5.1 Research Learning Community
For some time, scholars have studied the use of research-based evidence, noting that it can vary across conceptual, instrumental, tactical, imposed, and other kinds of modalities (Weiss, 1979). Scholars have noted that research is often conducted in ways that are burdensome to practitioners or that produce results that are not relevant or not usable in practice (Gutiérrez & Penuel, 2014). A major goal of this initiative is to produce research that is of the highest quality and that can be acted on in multiple ways: that is, the research provides evidence-based insights for reframing problems as well as guidance for taking action.

Across the studies that are associated with this initiative we hope to form a learning community of scholars who collectively can: (a) share insights and observations across studies; (b) coordinate data collection across sites and studies, where feasible; (c) provide and receive constructive feedback on reports, briefs, or papers; and (d) collectively address how to make the emerging research results most usable to practice in both a formative and summative form—that is, collectively identify what kinds of findings, in what kinds of formats, and at what times, are useful to different initiative stakeholders. Other activities may emerge from the group itself.

Participation in this initiative’s research learning community is intended to benefit and strengthen your work and the overall initiative. The initiative’s research learning community may be of special value to more junior scholars and post-docs on the research teams. The integrity and independence of each research team and study is paramount; therefore coordination, and collective sensemaking will be undertaken in ways that respect the ethics, practicalities, and integrity of each team’s work. We ask that proposers commit themselves to carrying out the goals and ideas of this collaboration, even as we acknowledge that addressing its technicalities will be a work in progress, and we know that accommodations will be needed. We ask proposers to identify specific challenges and benefits they see to participating in this kind of learning community focused on use of research-based evidence, as well as identify potential topics for the research learning community to discuss and reflect on.

Proposers should budget time and effort for participating in the learning community. We anticipate that participation could include a quarterly 90-minute virtual meeting with the other research teams. Additionally, proposals should include travel for three to four research team members (including more junior scholars) to attend one in-person initiative research learning community meeting a year. Additional research meetings might be scheduled to coincide with meetings of the 10-12 grantee arts organization.

5.2 Publications

Wallace undertakes extensive communications efforts to share lessons from its initiatives, both on its own and with the arts service associations and issue organizations with which it partners. In 2020, research reports on arts organizations were downloaded nearly 46,000 times from the Foundation’s website.

Academic Papers. Wallace asks that proposals include related budgeted time, for teams to develop academic papers resulting from your research efforts. The Foundation does not expect to have any involvement in that part of your work, though it requires that you maintain the same confidentiality and privacy of individuals and organizations involved in the initiative as that required for the public-facing reports, as described below. Further, Wallace expects researchers will share drafts with arts organizations and others, as appropriate, and conduct member checking. Please include, as a budget item, costs for making your publications open access, as well as for generating a two-page derivative research brief for each academic paper, for policy and practitioner audiences.

Public-Facing Reports. The public-facing reports (reports, briefs, podcasts, infographics, etc.) commissioned as a part of the projects described in this RFP will serve as the core of the Foundation’s communications about this initiative. Generating and disseminating knowledge that can benefit the field more broadly is, as described in Section 2.0, a crucial aspect of the Foundation’s philanthropic strategy. Wallace therefore expects that the publication contents will not only be rigorously researched but also written or presented in an accessible tone and manner appropriate to our target audience of practitioners, policymakers, funders, and other non-academics interested in the arts. Because they are central to our communication efforts, with the goal of being able to post research products on our website that are clear, fully warranted, well-organized and non-partisan, we ask for the opportunity to review and provide feedback on public reports and products, representing our knowledge of and experience with their intended audiences. We have instituted an approximately eight-week editorial review, encompassing two iterations, in which Wallace’s in-house research, program, and communications teams review drafts and provide comments for the researchers’ consideration. We ask authors to build time for that review process into their schedule and to budget accordingly.

Our editorial review seeks to support rather than replace your own editorial review and quality control. As a result, we assume that drafts of publications will be fact-checked, copy-edited and proofread prior to submission to Wallace. Crucially, we ask that you budget editorial and graphics time to prepare your drafts for non-academic audiences. We expect authors to factor in the related costs when they make their publication plans. We invite any questions from applicants about our editorial review.

We are particularly interested in public-facing reports that take into account the research on “research use” so that the formats, length, detail, and visuals are designed to make the documents highly useful to their intended audiences of those who set the conditions (policies, funding, priorities) and who implement the efforts for leveraging community orientation in the arts. This may entail developing differentiated products for different audiences and uses, and not one large interim or final report. Wallace will work with your team to develop, produce, and disseminate public presentations of your research products via webinars and zoom meetings.

5.3 Meetings, Travel, and Updates
Proposers should budget time and effort for the following activities:

  • Virtual Meetings. We will work with the awarded research teams to negotiate the timing and length of meetings needed to support your work and ensure smooth coordination with the grantee arts organizations. For your budgeting purposes we anticipate that meetings could include as many as the following:
    • A quarterly 90-minute virtual learning community meeting with other initiative researchers.
    • A monthly 60-minute meeting with the Wallace team of program, communications, and research staff.
    • For each public research deliverable you propose, two 60-minute virtual meetings, one with Wallace staff to preview findings and one with relevant professional audiences to discuss results

  • Travel. You are responsible for budgeting all travel costs for your team—including meetings at Wallace, initiative-wide PLCs, research learning community meetings, and all data collection activities. Please assume in your budget that travel to meetings and convenings, as well as to sites, as necessary, will resume in January 2022. If the pandemic has not yet subsided we would expect all activities would be conducted remotely.
    • Budget travel costs to send a team of one to three researchers to attend up to two arts organization PLCs each year.
    • Budget travel costs to send a team of one to three researchers to attend one research learning community meeting each year.
    • Budget travel costs for site visits/data collection as relevant to your plan.

  • ​​Written Project Updates. Proposers should budget time each year for developing and submitting the following updates for Wallace Foundation internal purposes:
    • A monthly short email update listing (in bullet form) research activities of the prior month, plans for the following month, and any challenges or changes that have arisen.
    • Quarterly analytical memos describing, in two to three pages, emerging findings or questions.


If you intend to submit a proposal, it is important that you email us a letter of intent before August 20, 2021. We will share with those who submit letters of intent any subsequent relevant information, including clarifications (FAQs) that emerge through responding to questions from the field. Send emails (no attachments) to research@wallacefoundation.org declaring your intention to submit, along with any questions you have about the RFP or initiative.

6.1 Qualifications
We seek research teams with the following qualifications:

  • Experience studying arts organizations focused on presenting or advancing art work and practices from BIPOC communities or community-based organizations of color.
  • Research and analytical skills appropriate to the project and proposed research designs.
  • History of publications relevant to the research design and focus.
  • Demonstrated experience working with diverse stakeholders on issues of equity and culture.
  • Experience working with arts organization directors and leaders.
  • Excellent writing, publication, and communication skills.

Wallace seeks to support research teams that bring a variety of perspectives to the work, including in methodological expertise, firsthand knowledge and understanding of the communities and contexts being studied, and active engagement with the scholarly and practical discussions that are relevant to this study. We will give preference to teams whose senior intellectual leadership (PI and/or co-PIs) includes researchers from communities of color. We further encourage proposers to develop teams that include early career scholars and scholars from communities underrepresented in the academy. We encourage but in no way require that the research effort bring together partners from various departments and/or institutions in order to build the best team possible for meeting the project goals. We invite proposers to explicitly address these issues in their description of their team’s qualifications.

6.2 Proposal Requirements and Deadlines
We ask that you submit the following in a Word document totaling no more than 15 pages. Documents, which will be blinded for review, should be single spaced with 11 point font. References are not included in the 15-page limit. Proposals should address the following points:                  

Part A Proposal Narrative. No more than 15 pages:

  1. Describe the gap in the knowledge base, and the relevance and value to the field of practice and research, that your study will address.
  2. Describe the theoretical framework(s) that will guide your work. What gaps in the literature do they address, what questions do they raise, what light will they shed?
  3. Provide a detailed research plan including
    1. ​How your team conceptualizes and integrates equity into your study design and process.
    2. How you will build trust with arts organization team members and how you will protect confidentiality and anonymity of individuals and organizations.
    3. Research questions, methods and analytical framework. This should be the bulk of your proposal. Please be clear about how your theoretical framework(s) inform(s) your data collection, coding, and analysis. Describe how you expect to draw on the ethnographies detailing organizational culture and history, which should be available in 2023. Describe how the logic models will serve as resources to your study. Describe how your research design takes into account the expected diversity of the cohort, while at the same time addressing overarching research questions across the cohort. Address limitations and challenges to your proposed study, and how you will mitigate them. Briefly describe contingency plans in the event of a continuing need to work remotely.
  4. Describe your project deliverables wand how they will provide actionable and timely insights for the cohort organizations, Wallace, and the other initiative research teams, as well as the larger field of arts organizations of color, scholars, and other stakeholders. See Part B item 3 below.
  5. What experiences and qualifications prepare you and your team to engage in this project? Describe who will lead or participate in the proposed activities and their roles in the project, highlighting how diverse expertise and experience will be leveraged.  

Part B Proposal Attachments
Please also attach, as separate documents not counted toward the 15-page limit:

  1. A detailed line item budget in Excel format. Include full budgets for any subcontracts. Wallace allows a 15% indirect rate on all direct costs.
  2. A budget justification briefly explaining each budget line in the Excel document. Please be sure to attend to rationale for honoraria or consulting fees in ways that address equity concerns.
  3. A list of deliverables, including intended audience, when it will be completed, and purpose.
  4. A table clarifying all of the data collection “touch points” that the arts cohort members will be expected to participate in -- this is meant to clarify the data burden anticipated for arts organizations.
  5. A description of your organizational capacity to support your proposed activities, including your editorial and production capacity or partnerships to produce public deliverables that are accessible and engaging to non-academic audiences.
  6. A table listing all senior staff, across all organizations represented in your team, with FTE and, if relevant, their role or part in the project. Please note that it is important to the Foundation that the proposed principal investigator(s) has/have sufficient time dedicated to the project.                              
  7. CVs of senior staff or consultants named in your budget.
  8. A project timeline.

With the exception of the excel budget, all of the items can be submitted as a single PDF. In fairness to others, we will not review any materials not listed above. Complete proposals are due to Wallace by the end of your day on October 4, 2021. Please send to research@wallacefoundation.org.

6.3 Selection Criteria
Proposals will be evaluated using the following criteria:

  1. Quality of the research design in its ability to answer the research questions; its sensitivity to the issues described above with respect to the unique cultural contexts of each of the arts organizations in the cohort; data collection burden on grantees; and how the study will contribute knowledge and value to advance the field, and, formatively, inform cohort activities and the initiative as a whole.
  2. Qualifications of the research team, including composition of the research leadership team.    
  3. Depth of conceptualization and integration of equity into proposed plans.
  4. Relevance, use, and timeliness of the proposed research deliverables for the full range of the initiative’s intended audiences and beneficiaries.
  5. Budget.

Questions about this RFP can be sent to research@wallacefoundation.org.

 Proposers who submit letters of intent by August 20 will receive subsequent FAQ documents ​developed in response to questions Wallace receives from RFP readers and recipients.



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