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Ford and Mellon Foundations Announce Fund For Disabled Artists

During the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of lives have been affected. Now, major foundations are stepping up to help artists through funds. The Ford Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation have come together to create a fund for disabled artists and activists. The fund, titled Disability Future Fellows, will offer $50,000 in grants to 20 artists of note. The fellowships are completely administered by the United States Artists group.

The names for this year have already been announced. They include visual artists, filmmakers, writers and performers. Christine Sun Kim, a 2019 Whitney Biennale alumni, is notable for her sound works that revolve around hearing and deafness. She performed a sign-language anthem at the Superbowl in February this year. Carolyn Lazard, another artist from 2019 Whitney Biennale, is known for films and sculptures that highlight labor and chronic illnesses. Some of her works are at display at the Essex Street gallery in New York. Both artists were named Future Fellows.

Tourmaline on Transgender Storytelling, David France, and the Netflix  Marsha P. Johnson Documentary | Teen Vogue
Tourmaline, filmmkaer

Tourmaline, who made prominent semi-documentaries about queer history also received the fellowship. Another recipient was Niv Acosta, a performer whose works intersect gender and Black culture. The remaining recipients of the fellowships were:

  • Patty Berne, writer/filmmaker
  • Eli Clare, poet/essayist
  • John Lee Clark, writer
  • Sky Cubacub, garment-maker
  • Jen Deerinwater, journalist/photographer
  • Rodney Evans, filmmaker
  • Ryan J. Haddad, playwright/performer
  • Jerron Herman, dancer
  • Jim LeBrecht, filmmaker
  • Riva Lehrer, painter/writer
  • Jeffrey Mansfield, designer
  • Mia Mingus, writer
  • Perel, choreographer
  • Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, writer/performance artist
  • Alice Sheppard, writer/choreographer
  • Alice Wong, journalist

Emil Kang (Program Director, Art & Culture, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation) said that the fund was a “result of listening, collaboration, and humble engagement”. Margaret Morton (Ford Foundation) called it a “privilege” to recognize these artists. She also hoped that the fund will lead to more engagement towards disability-led content.