From its start, the Souls Grown Deep Foundation was different than most philanthropic institutions. It began life in 2010 with the donation of 1,300 “overlooked” museum-quality artworks created by African Americans working in the US South after the Civil Rights era, the gift of white collector William S. Arnett. The foundation’s original vision was bold, “born of a belief that art history needed to be rewritten to include the creativity of some 160 artists of the 20th century who had toiled in oppression, poverty, and obscurity, far from the mainstream art world.”
The foundation’s first goal, after documenting and caring for its collection, was to move its artworks into the permanent collections of leading art museums—both to increase their visibility and to display them alongside some of the best known postwar white US artists—to revise art history as conceived by curators, academics, and the media. At this, it has succeeded. Today, twenty well-known museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the High Museum in Atlanta, the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, and the Minneapolis Institute of Art, house hundreds of these Black Belt artworks.
Price played an important role in these art transactions. The foundation’s strategy is to half-gift, half-sell the artworks, thus moving them at 50 percent of the fair market value. Says Angie Dodson, director of the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, “We want to applaud the Souls Grown Deep Foundation for their vision. They could have created their own museum. They could have added yet another museum to the landscape. But instead they felt the best way to really honor these artists was to make sure they did in fact become widely recognized pieces and part of larger, smarter art history. They decided to err on the side of generosity and created a very advantageous gift purchase program as a way of distributing these pieces to all of us.”Read Debby’s Full Article at Nonprofit Quarterly