The Ruth Foundation for the Arts (Ruth Arts) marked its debut in the arts philanthropy landscape with the announcement of its inaugural grantmaking cycle. The new foundation is supported by a bequest from the late Ruth DeYoung Kohler II and plans to award grants totaling more than $17 million annually.

Two New Orleans institutions will benefit from the first round: the Rivers Institute and The Black School.

Ruth Arts’ first class of grantees – a first round of funding that precedes the regular giving cycles the organization will undertake later this year – includes 78 nonprofit arts organizations who have received total funding of $1.25 million. of dollars. These individual grants range from $10,000 to $50,000 each.

The Rivers Institute is a non-profit institute for research, publishing and exhibition of contemporary art. Based in New Orleans, Rivers recognizes art as forms of thought shaped by geographic, social, political, environmental and economic histories.

The Black School is a 21st century school that will serve as a community center for a black radical arts education program.

The Ruth Foundation for the Arts is led by Executive Director Karen Patterson, who was most recently Director of Exhibitions at The Fabric Workshop and Museum and Senior Curator at the John Michael Kohler Center for the Arts, alongside Program Director Kim Nguyen, former curator and head of programs at the CCA Wattis Institute. Under their leadership, the grantmaker will seek to explore new possibilities for arts philanthropy that preserve creativity and embrace a people-centered approach.

“I am honored to continue Ruth’s outstanding legacy in such an impactful way,” Patterson said. “She showed us that a thriving artistic community requires support for the entire ecosystem: from exhibition spaces, to festivals, to archives, to artistic environments, to residencies and to school programs. We are truly a multidimensional realm. We rely on each other. And none of this would be possible without the artists.

Built from the inspiration and legacy of Ruth DeYoung Kohler II, a longtime advocate for the Midwestern arts community, Ruth Arts embraces the ethos of the region while operating nationally. Organizations funded in this first grantmaking cycle come from 29 states and vary widely in size. In keeping with the spirit of Ruth Arts, which places particular emphasis on supporting creativity in all its forms, emphasizing the unconventional and the exciting, recipients were not confined to areas or particular kinds of work, and covered a broad spectrum of manufacturing culture.

Ruth Arts is launching a unique artist-focused nomination process for this first round of grants, which was guided by a group of nearly 50 artists. These artists, from across the country and at all stages of their careers, were asked to nominate organizations they felt had profoundly influenced their own engagement with the arts, showcased visionary community programming, and were deeply connected to the processes artists. Winners were then drawn from these nominations.

Artists who participated in the process are: Sarah Braman, Nikesha Breeze, Mel Chin, Andrea Chung, Jennifer Ling Datchuk, Nicholas Galanin, Kati Gegenheimer, Michelle Grabner, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Heather Hart, Dyani White Hawk, Kahlil Robert Irving, Roberto Lugo, Guadalupe Maravilla, Woody De Othello, Ebony G. Patterson, Gala Porras-Kim, Tammie Rubin, Rose B. Simpson, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Lisa Stone, Alison Elizabeth Taylor, Mark Thomas Gibson, Nari Ward, Didier William, Saya Woolfalk and Samira Yamin. Others chose to remain anonymous.

While the grants will remain invitation-only for a semester cycle as the foundation grows and develops, Ruth Arts will continue to work with artists to guide and inform its programming, and will regularly host their artist nomination processes.

These leaders and visionaries across the arts, alongside the Ruth Arts Board of Trustees, comprised of some of Kohler’s beloved friends and advisors, serve to guide Ruth Arts through the changing landscape of arts philanthropy while keeping the organization rooted in its values ​​and origins.

“I was really excited when Karen asked me to name an organization,” said artist Rose B. Simpsons. “I felt the power dynamics around institutions could shift, that support could come from real experiences and community dedication rather than grand rhetoric and hierarchies.”

In addition to its grantmaking, Ruth Arts also plans to pilot several important partnerships in the coming years, including the creation of an Artist Advisory Board, a Visiting Artist Program for Art Schools, a grants for artists and research grants for cultural workers.