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December 2016 Newsletter


Ellen Alberding Speaks at the 2016 Independent Sector Conference

In November, Joyce President Ellen Alberding spoke at the Independent Sector 2016 Conference where she was asked to respond to the challenges facing philanthropy in the aftermath of the November election. Read more about the conversation here

Great Rivers Chicago Report Released

Recently, Joyce grantee, Metropolitan Planning Council and partner Friends of the Chicago River, released a report detailing a unifying vision for the Chicago, Calumet and Des Plaines Rivers. Check out the report here

$10 million in Grants Awarded in December 

The Joyce Foundation has awarded $10 million in grants to support organizations advocating for clean energy and energy efficiency policies in the Great Lakes region, help roll out a new data reporting system to strengthen teacher preparation programs, and fund research and advocacy to advance common-sense gun violence prevention policies. 

Beth Swanson Discusses Role of Principals in Chicago 

In November, Joyce Vice President, Beth Swanson, discussed the role that principals play in improving public schools in Chicago. Watch her remarks at City Club here

Q & A with Nina Vinik About Gun Violence Prevention Efforts

Nina Vinik, Joyce's Gun Violence Prevention Program Director was interviewed by Media Impact Funders about our approach to funding gun violence prevention and upcoming work by the foundation. Read about the Q&A here

New Employment Initiative Launches in Indiana 

October 25 saw the launch of Joyce grantee Ascend Indiana, an exciting new initiative that will deliver talented candidates to Indiana's employers while providing better connections to promising careers for Indiana residents. Learn more about the initiative here

2017 Joyce Award Winners Announced

The 2017 Joyce Awards were announced earlier this month and included winners from Chicago, Cleveland and the Twin Cities. Learn about our winners here

Three Questions with Culture Program Director, Tracie D. Hall 

You recently joined the Joyce Foundation as Culture Program Director. Do you come to the position with a sense of what you want to accomplish in your new role?

Over the coming months, I’m going to take every opportunity I can to listen and learn in my new role as I work with colleagues and with our grantee partners to advance the mission of the Joyce Foundation. But yes, I do come to the job with a vision – one that has been informed by a career focused on creating and building programs aimed at increasing visibility and bolstering the role that arts and culture play in the social and economic fabric of communities.

My vision tracks closely with the Foundation’s core values of advancing community vitality and pursuing social equity.  And through the Culture Program, I am in an optimum position to continue to cultivate projects that explore the arts as a cornerstone of community stewardship and sustainability. My career to date has spanned the social services, education, for profit, and non-profit sectors as well as municipal administration. In every role I have been in, I have tried to look at places where we can build bridges between communities and stakeholders so that arts and culture are not siloed. I often say that the same communities that are dealing with issues related to public health, public safety and access to fresh food are the same ones that need equitable access to the arts and equitable platforms for the artists and culture workers who live there. Social justice has been a compass for my work from day one. I see our grantmaking, convening, and thought leadership at Joyce as tools for getting there.
You’ve arrived at Joyce at an inflection point in our nation’s history. How do you reflect on that?

One of the first social media posts I read after the election concluded with this observation: “I know some incredible art is going to come out of this.” I’ve heard that sentiment echoed in conversations with dozens of artists and arts stewards since November.  I have been coming back to that statement in the weeks since because it recognizes that the arts are, and always must be, a platform for social discourse and a space where individuals and communities have the freedom to bear witness and speak their truths and to disagree. I want to emphasize that last word because we really do need spaces where we can struggle together as we work on the kind of house we want to live in, a place that can hold us all. That is what this is about right now. A divided house is not tenable.
The brilliant young painter Nina Chanel Abney said, when asked about her response to the election as an artist, that she was planning to “take a more radical approach to my work, take more risks, with the hopes to incite more conversation."  I couldn't agree more.  As artists and arts stewards, we have to see ourselves as being called to squarely face the societal separations of race, ethnicity, gender, disability, religion and class that have been laid so bare this past year. I think we are being called on to finally understand that social justice and empathy are not simply altruistic ideals, but perhaps the only ways of making our communities livable and sustainable as we near the first quarter of the 21st century? For me, art is the ladder, the bridge that can get us from where we are to the other side.
Who inspired you to pursue a life’s work in arts and culture?

I am inspired by the landscape of my childhood. I was born in LA and was raised primarily in and around the Watts section of Los Angeles. I was born well after the riots, but I inherited its landscape. If you had driven by in a car or flew over it in a helicopter, and those are intentional analogies, you may have seen a whole landscape of lack. And yes, there were streets where every house had burned leaving just the foundations, and there were no full-fledged grocery stores, and our nearest health clinic was a temporary trailer that had become permanent; but there were also poets and painters and playwrights who lived in the community and their presence made the community rich. They helped us find the language to describe what we saw and how we felt about it. So besides my working-class family which encouraged me to paint and write plays and poems and took the time to notice and engage with what I made, I am inspired by writers like Wanda Coleman and Quincy Troupe who lived in and made work in Watts at early points in their careers. And of course here in Chicago a major source of inspiration continues to be the great poet Gwendolyn Brooks, whose centennial we will honor next year.  Her poem for the 1967 unveiling of the Picasso statue in Daley Plaza deftly captures the catalytic power of art and its capacity to lead us into unsure but necessary depths. She wrote, "Art hurts. Art urges voyages—and it is easier to stay at home."Ms. Brooks was warning us that staying home as a way of entrenching one's own position, or avoiding the pain of conflict, comes at a cost. Art isn't always a safe space. And maybe the kind of art that requires us to go someplace different, to be vulnerable, to open ourselves up is  exactly what we need right now.