Moving Movements: Women in Philanthropy

Sun 6 Oct 2019 4.00PM-5.30PM The New School/Vera List Center
Theresa Lang Community and Student Center
55 West 13th Street, 2nd floor
New York City

Admission is free with prior registration.

The discussion is followed by an afternoon tea.
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Philanthropy has rarely been as much in the public eye as today. The influence of private wealth in electoral politics and the rise of what has been termed "philanthrocapitalism" and its toxic presence on the boards of nonprofit art institutions stand in contrast to growing demands for accountability, decolonizing wealth and deep structural changes from Indigenous communities, self-organized artist collectives and many others. At a time when social movements for advancing economic, racial, and climate justice test out philanthropy's notion of "doing good" with a particular focus on its structural limits as well as potential, new ways of organizing and mobilizing wealth to mirror and support these movements are emerging. This shift in giving from "charity," which often perpetuates the very issues it seeks to alleviate, to one that grounds giving in "justice," seeks to counter structural inequities that make philanthropy necessary in the first place.
    • Moving Movements: Women in Philanthropy
      • K Moving Movements_Event program Download - pdf (3.29 MB)
In celebration of The New School's 100th anniversary—a legacy of academic freedom, tolerance and public intellectual exchange—the Vera List Center hosts a dynamic, diverse and national convening, Moving Movements: Women in Philanthropy. Recognizing that women are leading this shift and the history of women philanthropists like Vera List, after whom the Center is named, this program considers how a distinctly intersectional feminist perspective, when it plays out through philanthropy, can transform our cultural organizations into more social justice-driven, inclusive and resilient spaces that boldly assert their civic roles. As a way to advance this urgent discussion, we look at the precious and formidable resources represented by women's leadership and advocacy in philanthropy.

Hailing from community-driven philanthropic organizations to private foundations or artistic and activist positions, the speakers will mine some of the key challenges that the field of philanthropy and cultural institutions are facing today, and consider how a fundamental realignment of values and resources invites us to imagine our organizations expansively as deep anchors of political and civic life.

Given the center's current focus on art as a political practice, we want to put forward an expanded notion of cultural organizations where values play out across all facets of an institution—from programs to publics, from architecture to finances. Moving Movements: Women in Philanthropy builds on the center's May 2019 event How Soon Is Now: Art, Activism and Accountability and calls on influential donors, philanthropy leaders, activists, and artists who are shaping the field and institutional prerogatives that advance social movements.

Cecilia Clarke, President & CEO, Brooklyn Community Foundation, New York
Michelle Coffey, Executive Director, Lambent Foundation, New York
Catherine Gund, Founder-Director, Aubin Pictures
Pia Infante, Co-Executive Director, The Whitman Institute, San Francisco
Hali Lee, Co-Director, Donors of Color Network; founder, Asian Women Giving Circle, New York

M. Bryna Sanger, Deputy Provost, Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs, The New School

Closing Reflection
Mary Watson, Executive Dean, Schools of Public Engagement, The New School

Moving Movements: Women in Philanthropy is presented by the Vera List Center as part of The Women's Legacy Project, a university-wide year-long initiative that honors the often invisible intellectual and philanthropic contributions of women at The New School. A project of historical recovery, it insists on the central role of women in the university's 100-year legacy of progressive thought and action—creatively, politically, philosophically and/or practically—and charts the road ahead. As part of the week-long, interactive Festival of NEW, the Vera List Center looks at gendered activist and social justice-oriented philanthropy and what it means today has meant historically and may mean in the future.

Preceding the public event:

"Some Moral Issues of Our Time" – An Afternoon Tea
Sunday, October 6, 2019, 2-4 pm

On Sunday afternoon, New School students convene for a private discussion with panelists and other philanthropists that restages the Human Relations Center workshops of the 1950s and 1960s—styled then as "afternoon teas" probing "some moral issues of our time." The goal is to examine questions that guided the early days of the Vera List Center through the lens of the present challenges for equitable education, representation, and social justice. Part of the illustrious history of The New School, the Human Relations Center was the predecessor to the Vera List Center, geared toward the "self-development" of women and the oldest continuing education center for women in the country, modeling what is today referred to as peer learning and socially engaged art.

With the participation of students, "Some Moral Issues of Our Time" conceives of school not as a place but in terms of relationships. We return to this concept of human relations at a time social and political instability with renewed purpose.

Moving Movements and "Some Moral Issues of Our Time" are organized by the Vera List Center for Art and Politics as part of the center's 2018–2020 curatorial focus If Art Is Politics.