Guiding Principles

Driven towards the purpose to produce an informed, equitable, and actionable response to the needs of the local arts community during and beyond the coronavirus pandemic, the Covid-19 Arts Funders Working Group (CAWG) are led by these Guiding Principles:

1. We Will Address and Prioritize Change with Mutual Accountability:

  • We have agreed to work with a spirit of urgency, acknowledging the immense scope of current needs and the way in which this crisis rapidly evolves. We will choose empathy over quick judgement, keeping the human needs of the arts community at the forefront. We will act with humility and transparency, acknowledging our own ignorance where applicable and being open about how we come to decisions. Most importantly we will seek to work in partnership with the local arts community.
  • We expect that there will be significant changes in the ways the arts community operates, and it is possible that not all arts organizations will survive through this crisis. Our intent is to help guide the arts community towards solutions and opportunities as it adjusts to this new reality.
  • We approach this work with openness, understanding that change can be hard, but also constructive. Just as we intend to change our practices and to operate more effectively as funders, so we hope to help our grant partners not only cope with current disruptions but begin to envision how altering operating models, funding strands and service delivery may strengthen their creativity and ability to share art with our community. We hope this openness to change is mutual and reinforcing and will structure our response to the crisis with a sensitivity to the impact of and possibilities inherent in such in the sector.

2. We will be Action-Oriented and Transparent:

  • We understand the necessity of responding quickly, and we will plan with a bias towards action.
  • We will prioritize agility, efficiency, and accountability with ourselves and the organizations we fund.
  • We will share our findings and coordinate our work with others in the field.
  •  We will work to keep our Foundations and philanthropic colleagues accountable to doing and seeing things differently, and we hope our actions will inspire others to do the same as we work together to address these existential threats.

3. We Will Support a Sustaining and Equitable Arts Ecology

  • We will view the Pittsburgh-region arts community as an ecology – made up of critical and diverse perspectives and influences.
  • We will use this moment as an opportunity to support the transition of the arts sector from the status quo, to one that is sustaining and equitable over the long-term.
  • We will hold ourselves accountable to pursuing solutions that help counteract overt and institutional racism, and intersecting oppressions, including looking at our past and current funding practices that perpetuate inequities.
  • We will explore the utility of offering different forms of capital and support (this might range from below-market rate loans or financial guarantors to quick access to different forms of technical assistance, marketing, public policy, and fundraising assistance).
  • We will seek out solutions that support the arts community as a whole, but with a focus on those that address the needs of small and mid-sized arts organizations and programs, and those they serve, represent, or those that reflect diverse communities in their staff and/or leadership. This includes those that may not have had traditional access to the foundation community, have not been able to access current sources of emergency funding, and do not have other supporting infrastructure such as a strong donor base, development staff, and other basic organizational supports.

4. We Envision a Strong and Healthy Arts Community

  • We will seek out solutions that promote and strengthen the arts sector.
  • In the near term, we will focus on solutions that promote a healthy, robust re-emergence of the arts sector.
  • We will identify public policy options to enhance the sector’s access to public resources now, and its overall strength in the future.
  • We will prioritize new and creative ways of working together, utilizing existing strengths, and avoiding duplication of competing solutions or services.

5. Holistic Support of the Arts Community

  • As we support healthy arts organizations, we also recognize the need to think holistically and support the needs of the people who make the art, present the art, and support the arts in all its facets: management, creative, independent artists, teaching artists, arts administrators, and the
  • support staff that assists them and maintains arts facilities – often the invisible members of the arts workforce.
  • We will seek to amplify previously unheard voices, such as those with creative, effective solutions to desperate community needs.
  • We will assert the need for clear arts community data during the COVID-19 crisis and future data collection whenever possible, which should include examining that which is most distinct among the needs of cultural workers.