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Ford Foundation President Darren Walker to give lecture on art, social justice, philanthropy

With $600 million, one person can buy 198,675,496 meals. Or, they could attend a public, in-state college for 13,636 years. They could purchase 17,647 brand-new cars or 2,608 median-priced homes in the United States. To most people, $600 million is something they will never see. But, to Darren Walker, it is the amount of money the Ford Foundation will distribute in just one year.

The arts are an essential component of our democracy. Artists have the power to help us reimagine a more just society,” Walker said. “Right now, they are on the front lines with protestors fighting for equality and dignity. The arts can lead us forward, help our communities heal, and bring us together to bridge real divides. Now, in this time of unprecedented crisis, is the time to invest in and support the arts and artists.”

Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, sees his role in philanthropy as a way to remedy class disparities in the world. It is a way to give resources, and even a voice to those in need. To Walker, philanthropy is social justice.

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Walker

At 10:45 a.m. EDT Tuesday, July 14, on CHQ Assembly, Walker will speak about how philanthropy and social justice fit into the week’s theme of “Art and Democracy.” 

“The arts are an essential component of our democracy. Artists have the power to help us reimagine a more just society,” Walker said. “Right now, they are on the front lines with protestors fighting for equality and dignity. The arts can lead us forward, help our communities heal, and bring us together to bridge real divides. Now, in this time of unprecedented crisis, is the time to invest in and support the arts and artists.”

The Ford Foundation has awarded grants to a number of arts-based projects since Walker became president in 2016, including to the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, Ballet Hispánico, Mississippi Museum of Art, and more.

In his leadership, Walker has worked to specifically support artists from marginalized or underrepresented communities in the art world. According to The New York Times, Walker sold the Ford Foundation’s blue chip art collection to purchase hundreds of works from female artists and artists of color. 

Walker serves on the boards for the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the National Gallery of Art, Carnegie Hall, and more. Walker co-chairs the New York City Mayoral Commission on City Art, Monuments, and Markers. 

Matt Ewalt, Institution vice president and Emily and Richard Smucker Chair for Education, said that Walker’s philanthropic history and interest in art made him a great fit to speak at the Institution.

“Through his leadership at the Ford Foundation, and the investments of the foundation toward advancing human dignity, Darren Walker continues to demonstrate how the arts connect us and challenge us to be and do more, to demonstrate why we must invest in the arts, and, ultimately, to make clear how the arts are critical to our democracy,” Ewalt said. 

This program is made possible by the Dr. Edwin Prince Booth Memorial Fund. 

Tags : Art and DemocracyBallet HispánicoDarren WalkerEllis Marsalis Center for MusicFord FoundationMississippi Museum of ArtPhilanthropysocial justiceThe New York Times
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The author Jamie Clarkson

Jamie Clarkson is a first-year reporter at The Chautauquan Daily, covering everything from the environment to the African American Heritage House and Heritage Lecture Series. In May 2020, Jamie graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Journalism with specializations in women’s, gender and sexuality studies and music from the Ohio University E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. She will return to Scripps in the fall to pursue her master’s degree. This summer she will be quarantine-reporting from her home in Bremen, Ohio.

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