Initiative funds 17 BIPOC arts organizations across the Southeast including Colour of Music Festival

CHARLESTON SC—The Colour of Music Festival, Inc. is proud to be a recipient and member of South Arts’ inaugural cohort of Southern Cultural Treasures―a $6,000,000, four-year initiative supporting Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) led and serving arts and cultural organizations throughout the Southeast.

The program is expected to run through March 2025 and provide each organization with up to $300,000 of general operating grants distributed over three years, an additional project grant of up to $7,500, customized consultant services, networking, cohort building, and knowledge sharing.

“Black cultural institutions have never lacked artistic creativity―we have lacked funding. We are the only American cultural group contributing taxes to city, county, state, and federal sources yet we have no leading institutions equally funded towards our full potential. The vision of the Ford Foundation’s generous funding administered by South Arts is one step forward towards what I hope will be equal parity funding moving forward for my community.  It’s an honor to be a part of the Southern Cultural Treasures initiative and be among 16 other exceptionally talented organizations,” said Lee Pringle, Founder and Artistic Director, Colour of Music Festival.

This initial cohort is made up of 17 organizations representing decades of BIPOC arts and community-driven stewardship throughout the nine-state region that includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.  

“South Arts is honored to recognize and support these organizations as Southern Cultural Treasures,” said Susie Surkamer, South Arts’ President and CEO. “These groups push the boundaries of creative expression, anchor their local communities, and advance the arts in our nine-state region. Our hope is this initiative, with the help of these organizations, will foster a more equitable art community throughout the Southeastern region.”

South Arts first announced the Southern Cultural Treasures program in Fall 2021. It complements the Ford Foundation’s America’s Cultural Treasures initiative which aims 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.

“We are thrilled to partner with South Arts and honor these seventeen cultural institutions and their contributions to the regional landscape,” said Lane Harwell, program officer for creativity and free expression at the Ford Foundation. “We hope this investment will inspire more funders and patrons to support the diversity of arts organizations and expressions in the American South.”

The 17 Southern Cultural Treasures are:

  • Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame

Birmingham, AL

  • Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator

Miami, FL

  • Teatro Avante

              Miami, FL

  • Art2Action Inc.

Tampa, FL

  • Deep Center, Inc.

Savannah, GA

  • Otis Redding Foundation

Macon, GA

  • True Colors Theatre Company

Atlanta, GA

  • Ballethnic Dance Company Inc.

East Point, GA

  • Asia Institute – Crane House

Louisville, KY

  • Junebug Productions

New Orleans, LA

  • Efforts of Grace, Inc.

New Orleans, LA

  • Mississippi Center for Cultural Production

Utica, MS

  • BB King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center

Indianola, MS

  • JazzArts Charlotte

Charlotte, NC

  • Colour of Music, Inc.

Mount Pleasant, SC

  • Catawba Nation Cultural Division

Rock Hill, SC

  • Collage Dance Collective

Memphis, TN

“These organizations make up a dynamic representation not only of their region and their communities, but also the burgeoning desire to grow and serve the cultural landscape of the South,” said Joy Young, PhD, South Arts’ Vice President of Programs. “Our duty at South Arts is to continue advocating for this kind of instrumental support, and we are confident this cohort of Southern Cultural Treasures will help inspire these pursuits on a national scale.”

South Arts’ Southern Cultural Treasures is supported by the Ford Foundation, with additional support from the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, the Infusion Fund, a partnership between the City of Charlotte, Foundation for The Carolinas, and generous donors to support the arts and cultural sector, and the Zeist Foundation.