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Sachs Program for Arts Innovation's new grant initiative will support Black artists and practitioners. Credit: Kylie Cooper

Penn's Sachs Program for Arts Innovation is funding a new grant initiative to support Black artists and practitioners within the University community, in response to the George Floyd protests against racial injustice. 

The Sachs Program will fund up to five projects, which must be completed by the end of the fall 2020 semester, at up to $1500, according to the June 5 announcement

The program is inviting proposals for projects led by or primarily serving Black artists and practitioners within the Penn community. All members of the Penn community, including students, faculty, staff, and alumni, are eligible to apply for the grant, according to the announcement.

“Everyone can think about ways to support Black artists and apply, and we welcome that,” Sachs Executive Director John McInerney said. “However, for this grant, we do really want to focus on Black artists and how we can best support them.”

The Sachs Program for Arts Innovation was founded in 2017, and focuses on advocating for and encouraging activities in the arts across the University, particularly through grants. Now, in response to recent civil unrest and outrage over the killing of Black Americans, the program created its first funding opportunity to amplify the voices of Black artists.

“It’s important at this time to acknowledge the disparities in our wider society, but also at the University,” Sachs Associate Director Chloe Reison said. 

“Beyond making a statement about current events, we felt there was a call for action," Reison said. "We wanted to hear and acknowledge that and be able to take one step forward in what we see as a larger trajectory of necessary change and assessment."

“It’s so important right now, because people’s ears are open and people are wanting to listen, that we provide opportunities for people to speak,” Sachs Administrative Assistant Tamara Suber said. “So, let’s give Black artists and practitioners an opportunity to really express themselves fully without feeling like they have to filter themselves.” 

To apply, artists must share a statement that includes their proposal, what they hope to achieve, and what they require to fulfill their proposal. 

Grant applications close on June 15, after which Reison and McInerney will sit down with two board co-chairs and decide the funding recipients. A diverse committee and advisory board of the Sachs Program usually selects grant projects recipients to ensure a fair opportunity for everyone. 

“We still want to keep that spirit of getting as much input as possible [in choosing to fund] the projects that most align with our goals, but because we want to get the funds out, it’s not going through the full board committees,” McInerney said. 

Artists who apply for this grant will hear back by June 24. 

The Sachs Arts Innovation program was created in 2017 after a $15 million donation from 1967 Wharton graduate Keith L. Sachs and 1969 College graduate Katherine Sachs, who have a long track record in donating to the arts at Penn. The donation represents the single largest donation across the arts in the school’s history, according to a press release from Penn News.