The 20 grantees, which represent the final disbursements of the Fund’s six-year, $125 million legacy, prioritize support for currently and formerly incarcerated artists
New York, NY – Founded in 2017, The Art for Justice (A4J) Fund has announced its final cohort of grant recipients for spring 2023. The grants will provide transformational support for The Center for Art & Advocacy (formerly Right of Return USA), as well as seed and sustain justice-related programming for the Cleveland Public Library Foundation, the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform, and Worth Rises, among other organizations. In addition, 10 individual fellowships will directly benefit the work of formerly incarcerated and justice-impacted artists, many of them women of color.
Inaugurated under the unprecedented philanthropic vision of Agnes Gund, A4J launched with $100M generated from the sale of Gund’s favorite painting, Roy Lichtenstein’s Masterpiece (1962). This spurred artists, collectors, and supporters to donate an additional $25M in support of the Fund’s mission to advance policy reform, shift public narratives, and promote the leadership of formerly incarcerated people while centering art as a catalyst to transform the criminal legal system as a whole. The Fund was launched with the explicit mandate to move all resources to the field within a six-year period to secure maximum impact.
“Artists embody the vitality of our society—they often bring the inspiration, truth-telling, and mirrors we need to see the world around us. It’s exciting for Art for Justice to fulfill its mission to support artists including more women artists, who have undoubtedly shaped my life and thinking,” said A4J founder and philanthropist Agnes Gund. “As the Fund sunsets, I’m grateful for the artists and advocates working to end mass incarceration, and I hope more donors will support their efforts as our world needs more changemakers.”
The advocacy and arts organizations and individual artists featured in A4J’s spring 2023 grantee cohort represent an ambitious investment in the creative potential and lived experiences of formerly incarcerated and system-impacted citizens. This cohort includes two institutional grants providing support for the work of artists that are currently incarcerated, in an effort to support artwork that transcends prison walls. Notably, grants provided to individual artists are unrestricted, allowing each recipient to use the funding in broad support of their own practice.
“Being a grantee of the Art for Justice Fund makes me feel cared for as an artist,” said Beverly Price, photographer and youth advocate. “In order for me to pour into my community through my photography practice and advocacy, I need to have the resources to pour into myself. When artists are given this kind of support, both financially and emotionally, we have the power to bring about structural and societal shifts that can create a more just world.”
The spring 2023 Art for Justice organizational grant recipients are:
Focus: Archive and exhibition programming for currently incarcerated artists
National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform
Focus: Creatively repurpose youth detention facilities
The Center for Art & Advocacy
Focus: Incubator, fellowship and residency programs
Focus: Design alternatives for decommissioned jails
Focus: #EndTheException Campaign
Restore Hope Arkansas
Little Rock, Arkansas
Focus: Campaign to reduce gang violence featuring art by currently incarcerated artists
Focus: Creative organizing campaign to address carceral impacts on communities at the U.S.-Mexico border
Cleveland Public Library Foundation
Focus: Public art spurring community engagement
Returning Artists’ Guild
Focus: Studio, exhibition resources, and community for justice-impacted artists
Focus: Mother’s Day programming emphasizing family reintegration
The spring 2023 Art for Justice individual grant recipients are:
Artist, Activist, Service Provider
Lives and works in Montgomery, AL
Artist, Poet, and Writer
Lives and works in Chicago, IL
Lives and works in Albuquerque, NM
Lives and works in New York, NY
Haley Greenfeather English
Lives and works in Albuquerque, NM
Writer, Visual Artist
Lives and works in California
Lives and works in
Visual Artist, Photographer Lives and works in Brooklyn, NY
Victor “Marka27” Quiñonez
Lives and works in New York, NY
Lives and works in Wisconsin
With the institutional support of the Ford Foundation and the management of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, A4J has leveraged its agility and generated momentum as a time-limited fund to support 200+ artists and arts and advocacy organizations, dispersing over 400 grants in total. Before A4J sunsets on June 30, 2023, it will have allocated over $125M to partners and inspired other funders to join this movement.
“This final cohort of grants also represents a full-circle moment for Art for Justice. Given that it was Ava DuVernay’s film 13th that first inspired Agnes to launch the Fund, it is fitting that we conclude our grantmaking with critical support to Worth Rises to expand a national campaign to remove this vestige of legalized slavery from the 13th Amendment of the nation’s constitution,” said Helena Huang, Art for Justice Fund project director. “We anticipate public support for this effort to continue to grow.”
Over the past six years, the Fund has concentrated on grantmaking in three major policy areas: bail reform that reduces the number of people needlessly detained in jail, sentencing reform that eliminates the excessive and disproportionate punishment of young people and people of color, and the creation of meaningful reentry opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals to support themselves and their families.
“This year marks a pivotal turning point for the campaign to #EndTheException in the Thirteenth Amendment, and truly abolish slavery for all, as we reintroduce the Abolition Amendment with bipartisan sponsors,” said Bianca Tylek, executive director of Worth Rises, which is leading the #EndTheException coalition of more than 80 national organizations. “The gift that Art for Justice gave us goes far beyond its financial support—Art for Justice has created a community of artists and advocates from which incredible partnerships have spurred critical social impact. I know I speak for many when I say that Art for Justice will be missed as an institution and convener, but their legacy will be honored in each of us who had the opportunity to know it as we continue this work.”
A4J seeks to leave behind a lasting legacy, embodying a model wherein art becomes the very means by which justice is secured. By leveraging partnerships and inspiring impact, A4J catalyzes the power of art as a tool to end mass incarceration, inspiring future reforms while building a foundation for lasting change.
ABOUT ART FOR JUSTICE FUND
The Art for Justice (A4J) Fund aligns artists, advocates, and allied donors to transform the criminal legal system, envisioning a future of shared safety for all. Through the work of grantees, the Fund seeks to end mass incarceration and shift the narrative around criminal justice reform through art. A project of the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Art for Justice is a time-limited fund that concentrates on three major policy areas: bail reform to reduce the number of people needlessly detained in jail; sentencing reform to eliminate the excessive and disproportionate punishment of young people and people of color; and the creation of meaningful reentry opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals to support themselves and their families. A4J seeks to leave behind a lasting legacy, embodying a model wherein art becomes the very means by which justice is secured. By leveraging partnerships and impact, A4J elevates the power of art to end mass incarceration, inspiring future reform efforts while building a foundation for lasting change.