The formation of Ruth Arts’ multi-year Thought Leaders program is inspired by the breadth of Ruth DeYoung Koher II’s life and giving—non-hierarchical and committed to structural change with an unwavering generosity and a dedication to the unexpected. Through a substantial, sustained level of support, our multi-year program uplifts organizations undertaking ambitious, transformative initiatives with long-term impact. Organizations that are dedicated to the complex work of forming new possibilities through experimentation, capacity building, and deeper understandings and investigations of our histories, environments, or the full arc of an artist’s life.
Each organization enters the program with their own expressed goals and receives $300,000 over three years. Their proposed projects ask the most urgent questions of our time: How do you transfer leadership with generosity and care? How do you evolve while resisting mission drift? How do you remain rooted in your community in meaningful ways while being connected to critical conversations at large? How do you make work in a time of fundamental social, economic, and ecological uncertainty? How do we form generative rather than extractive relationships to the land? How do you express abundance and joy in your operations? How do you imagine growth while confronting colonial legacies? What is inheritance in relation to collective care? How do you honor those that came before while creating space for new formations? How do we retell and reconceive history?
An integral aspect of the multi-year program is its emphasis on generosity and thought leadership—that the participating organizations commit to public knowledge sharing throughout their term. Whether through convenings and conversations, the creation of guides and resources, or a unique programmatic execution that could be modeled for their peers, the field will have the opportunity to work alongside and learn from their processes, to restructure and re-envision the future of art together.