With the arts still shut down from COVID-19, it’s important that we look for opportunities to invest in our community. Research where you’re donating your money to be sure that your donation is as impactful to the future of dance as it is to the current morass we are wading through. We acknowledge there are far more organizations than are on this list.
1. YOUR HOMETOWN DANCE STUDIO/COMMUNITY
When looking for a synergistic relationship between enriching future generations of dance and organizations in need of help, look no further than your own backyard. If the dance studio that trained you isn’t taking donations, band together with other alumni to start a scholarship fund for families that may be having trouble making ends meet. Invest in where you came from so the door stays open behind you.
Be it through mentorship programs, collaboration co-ops, or curated events, Women of Color in the Arts is dedicated to creating racial and cultural equity in the performing arts field. Founded by Kaisha S. Johnson and Alison T. McNeil, this global, multi-disciplinary organization has built a vast network of femme-identifying professionals who, per their website, are “dedicated to creating an equitable, inclusive, and diverse performing arts field.” If you can’t donate but are a woman of color in the arts then this is an organization you should look into!
The artists of the future are the ones who will develop their own medium to create with. Founded in 2012 by Yamilée Toussaint Beach, STEM from Dance is a multi-pronged organization that focuses on diversifying the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) workforce through a lens of dance. They offer programs like their “Girls Rise Up” online summer dance program where they teach girls to code, dance, and “discover their STEM potential.” They also partner with schools to offer afterschool programming. If you can’t donate financially, reach out to STEM from Dance about partnering with an institution near you!
NDEO is a membership organization that dedicates itself to advancing dance education. It provides members of all backgrounds a network of resources and support, a base for advocacy, and special professional development. Members span the spectrum of dance education from dance studios to K-12 schools to colleges and community centers. Varying levels of membership help to accommodate all types of educators. If you’d like to support the organization and are a dance educator, look into becoming a member here.
Okay, this one doesn’t even take donations but we felt it was important you know about it. The majority of dance artists are freelancers, meaning they don’t have a singular, long-term employer. The Freelancers Union is FREE to join and offers insurance benefits, advocacy, and more. We STRONGLY encourage our readers to sign up and learn more about this important organization.
Per their website: “The BTFA Collective aims to create an empowering community among black trans and non-binary femmes and to address the systemic barriers that support their erasure.” The Collective holds workshops and skill- building events as well as Open Mic Nights and art gallery showcases. Founded in 2019 by Jordyn Jay, BTFA is currently focused on cultivating a directory of Black trans femme artists. Submit to be included in this directory here.
With programs that offer visual art classes, theatre, writing, music, and dance to incarcerated individuals, Rehabilitation Through the Arts seeks to use the transformative power of the arts to help develop skills “to unlock [incarcerated individuals’] potential and [help them] succeed in the larger community. RTA seeks to raise public awareness of the humanity behind prison walls.” Founded in 1996 by Katherine Vockins, RTA operates in six men’s and women’s correctional facilities within a 100-mile radius of New York City. Their dance performances fill the gym’s bleachers every time.
IABD has been the “Mecca for Blacks in Dance” since 1988 and continues to embody its missions to preserve and promote dance by people of African ancestry or origin while increasing opportunities for artists in every sphere of the dance experience. This real titan of an organization has proven itself in its over 30 year history as truly standing by its values. Throughout 2019 they offered town halls to discuss inequality and an Emergency Fund for their members. If you are unable to donate to this historic group, look into joining them as a member here.
Started by The Dance Union Podcast at the beginning of the pandemic, the NYC Dancers Relief Fund has sent out weekly small grants to artists in NYC with a priority for BIPOC, disabled, and trans/non-binary/gender non-conforming/queer dance artists. “This fund was created with the intention of supporting dance artists in NYC who are facing financial struggles due to COVID-19, and whom larger relief funds from larger entities (local, state, federal, foundations, etc.) have systematically overlooked and do not offer support. We prioritize care for those at the margins over here.”
A titan of dance and television, Debbie Allen still runs and stays intimately involved in the dance studio she started in 2001. With alumni like William Wingfield, Chloe and Maud Arnold, and Dion Watson, the non-profit school has certainly proven itself to be a powerhouse of training and discipline. With the unique asset of Debbie Allen’s public visibility, the studio is able to push dance and proper dance training to the forefront of public conversation.