Jason Rapp

South Arts announces $6 million for ‘Southern Cultural Treasures’

A new program with help from the Ford Foundation

Text graphic that reads "Southern Cultural Treasures: A program of South Arts"


South Arts is pleased to announce Southern Cultural Treasures: a $6,000,000, four-year initiative funding Black, Indigenous, and People of Color-led and -serving arts and cultural organizations throughout the Southeast.

The application process opens today, and cohort members will be announced in May 2022.The initiative is presented in partnership with the Ford Foundation, which is supporting this project with a $3,000,000 matching gift. To maximize the impact of Southern Cultural Treasures, South Arts is currently seeking additional funding partners.

Designed to foster lasting stability and resiliency of arts communities throughout the region, Southern Cultural Treasures will support a cohort of 12-15 organizations between May 2022 and March 2025 by offering:

  • general operating grants of up to $300,000;
  • project grants of up to $7,500;
  • and a variety of networking and development opportunities designed to elevate and champion arts communities throughout South Arts’ nine-state region. By providing critical funding and a roadmap for future growth, Southern Cultural Treasures is an exciting new opportunity for the arts in the region.

“Southern Cultural Treasures is a turning point for the arts in the South,” South Arts’ President and CEO Susie Surkamer said“The initiative allows for a more equitable art community throughout the nine states in which South Arts operates, and furthers our mission of advancing Southern vitality through the arts.”

Southern Cultural Treasures is a complementary program to America’s Cultural Treasures, a Ford Foundation-led initiative to acknowledge and honor the diversity of artistic expression and excellence in America and provide critical funding to organizations that have made a significant impact on America’s cultural landscape, despite historically limited resources. As Ford’s regional partner for the U.S. South, South Arts brings five decades of arts stewardship throughout Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

“The Ford Foundation is proud to join South Arts to honor and celebrate the rich diversity of artistic excellence across the region and advance our shared vision for a just South,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. “We’re grateful for South Arts’ expertise and intimate knowledge of the Southeast and look forward to working with them over the coming years.”

Southern Cultural Treasures is designed to have far-reaching, lasting benefits. By providing BIPOC-led and -serving organizations with financial resources alongside a framework that establishes long-term sustainability and institution-building, the initiative will encourage growth throughout the South—not only in arts circles, but in the surrounding communities as well.

“BIPOC arts organizations are integral to communities throughout the region, no matter their size, history, or area of focus. By funding them, not only are we working to correct historic disparities, we’re empowering the next generation of singers, dancers, media artists, painters, writers—and everyone else,” South Arts Vice President of Programming Joy Young, Ph.D. said. “Only by creating a more equitable landscape can we truly unlock the potential of the arts, and the South.”

Organizations throughout South Arts’ nine-state region are strongly encouraged to apply. To apply, eligible organizations should submit a Letter of Intent to participate by December 10, 2021 through the South Arts website. South Arts will hold a webinar discussing the program on November 12, 2021. After review, those most closely aligned with the program goals will be invited to submit a full application. Eligibility information, webinar registration, and application guidelines can be accessed by visiting southarts.org/sct or calling 404.874.7244.


South Arts advances Southern vitality through the arts. The nonprofit regional arts organization was founded in 1975 to build on the South’s unique heritage and enhance the public value of the arts. South Arts’ work responds to the arts environment and cultural trends with a regional perspective. South Arts offers an annual portfolio of activities designed to support the success of artists and arts providers in the South, address the needs of Southern communities through impactful arts-based programs, and celebrate the excellence, innovation, value and power of the arts of the South. For more information, visit www.southarts.org.


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