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Press release

The Metropolitan Museum of Art and New York University’s Tisch School Partner with 19 Community Organizations on William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust City-Wide Initiative

As part of an unprecedented $6 million program launched by the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust, The Met, NYU, and 19 New York City organizations will explore how arts-based organizations can serve as positive, relevant, and inspiring forces in the daily lives of diverse communities. While the North Carolina–based Kenan Trust has a history of supporting New York City, this funding marks its first investment of this kind and is a significant expansion of its path-breaking work to be a catalyst for cultural organizations to increase their relationship with individual communities.  

“Philanthropic efforts in the arts must make a fundamental shift from charitable gifts that exclude to justice-oriented giving that creates equitable access for all. We believe the arts are core to giving creative voice to individuals to combat broken systems while building bridges across lines of difference,” said Dr. Dorian Burton, Assistant Executive Director of the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust. “These 21 organizations range in size, scope, and history, but were all selected for funding because they have the ability, leadership, and platforms to  build networks that ensure the arts are not just an add-on or an optional budget line item waiting to be cut. The arts have long been a vehicle for social change and are the heartbeat of the American consciousness.”

The Kenan Trust invited The Metropolitan Museum of Art to serve as an anchor organization alongside New York University’s Tisch School of Arts. Representing a wide range of groups—from the National Dance Institute, to the Weeksville Heritage Center, to Sadie Nash Leadership Project, to Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater—these organizations, together, exemplify a broad scope of engagement and artistic exploration. The Met and NYU will document the group’s practices and discussions in an effort to share lessons, outcomes, and tools with communities and the field. The project will culminate in a conference and publication. 

“Core to The Met’s mission is working beyond the walls of our museums,” said Daniel H. Weiss, President and interim Chief Executive Officer of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. “These resources will strengthen communities, artists, and museums for generations to come.”  

This grant allows these institutions to build on existing relationships within their local communities, create new connections, and meaningfully act as instruments of positive community change. “The responsibility of any museum or cultural institution is to serve as a space for ideas and creativity that respond to timely issues,” said Sandra Jackson-Dumont, the Museum’s Frederick P. and Sandra P. Rose Chairman of Education. “Embracing social practice and nurturing artists, this is a powerful opportunity to work collaboratively with diverse communities and neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs.”

“We are grateful for the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust for its commitment to supporting and forging connection in arts communities,” Allyson Green, Dean of the NYU Tisch School of the Arts, said. “A partnership with The Metropolitan Museum of Art is an exciting and natural fit for our mission of educating future generations of art citizens. We look forward to convening with the outstanding Kenan-supported institutions to undertake conversations on our collective impact in arts education and community engagement.”

Participating Organizations
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York University, Tisch School of the Arts
Laundromat Project
The Beautiful Project
Harlem School of the Arts
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
The Brooklyn Museum
National Dance Institute
Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Center
STEM From Dance
Urban Word
Weeksville Heritage Center
Studio Museum in Harlem
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Lincoln Center Education
Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM)
Division of Social Science at Columbia University
Sadie Nash Leadership Project
New York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Urban Arts Partnership

About the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust

Established in 1966 by a bequest from the estate of chemist and industrialist William R. Kenan, Jr., the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, focuses on awarding grants in the areas of K–12 education, higher education, whole community health, arts and culture, and historic preservation.

About The Met 

The Met presents over 5,000 years of art from around the world for everyone to experience and enjoy. The Museum lives in three iconic sites in New York City—The Met Fifth Avenue, The Met Breuer, and The Met Cloisters. Millions of people also take part in The Met experience online.

Since it was founded in 1870, The Met has always aspired to be more than a treasury of rare and beautiful objects. Every day, art comes alive in the Museum’s galleries and through its exhibitions and events, revealing both new ideas and unexpected connections across time and across cultures.

Through its website and social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, The Met expands its visitor experience to people all over the world. For additional information about the Museum, visit

About NYU Tisch School of the Arts

Since the founding in 1965, the NYU Tisch School of the Arts has established itself as one of the premiere arts schools in the country. It draws on the vast artistic and cultural resources of New York City and New York University to create an extraordinary training ground for the individual artist and scholar, with course offerings in acting, dance, cinema studies, design for stage and film, dramatic writing, film and television, game design, interactive telecommunications, moving image archiving and preservation, musical theatre writing, performance studies, photography, art politics and public policy, and recorded music.

Thousands of NYU Tisch alumni have gone on to enjoy fulfilling careers in the arts. Tisch graduates include renowned artists such as Pulitzer Prize winners Annie Baker, Tony Kushner, Doug Wright, and Chang Lee; Academy Award winners Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone, Marcia Gay Harden, Keiko Ibi, Mahershala Ali, and Ang Lee; Tony Award winners Nina Arianda, Steve Kazee, George C. Wolfe, Michael Mayer, Idina Menzel, Stephen Spinella, and Frank Wood; Emmy Award winners Alec Baldwin, Billy Crystal, Cary Joji Fukunaga, Vince Gilligan, Kristen Johnston, Camryn Manheim, and Debra Messing; acclaimed filmmakers Spike Lee, Amy Heckerling, and Colin Treverrow; Grammy nominee Elle Varner; entrepreneur Dennis Crowley; MacArthur Fellowship recipients Kyle Abraham, Camille Utterback, and Mimi Lien; visual artist Leo Villareal; and actors Gina Rodriguez, Sterling K. Brown, and Corey Stoll.  For additional information, please visit

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Updated April 11, 2017

Contact Meryl Cates
T 212 650 2684

T 212 570 3951

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