Courtesy Ford Foundation

Dance Magazine Chairman's Award Honoree: Darren Walker

This week we're sharing tributes to all of the honorees we'll be celebrating at the 2020 Dance Magazine Awards. For tickets to our virtual ceremony taking place December 7, visit dancemediafoundation.org.


In his seven years as president of the Ford Foundation, Darren Walker has played a pivotal role in supporting the arts through the lens of social justice. As a gay, Black man from Texas who grew up poor, Walker brings a valuable perspective to the behemoth of philanthropy.


Since the 1950s, the Ford Foundation—an independent, nonprofit $13 billion social justice institution—has bequeathed millions in game-changing financial support to dance institutions such as Dance Theatre of Harlem and the School of American Ballet. Walker has continued that legacy of supporting dance, while prioritizing cultural preservation and diversity.

Thanks in large part to Walker, massive grants have gone to BIPOC companies whose endowments tend to be small. Earlier this year, for instance, the Ford Foundation committed to giving Ballet Hispánico a $4 million grant, more than half of its annual operating budget. The move is part of a new $160-million-dollar-plus plan spearheaded by the Ford Foundation to award grants to minority-focused organizations, many of whom have been hit the hardest by COVID-19 shutdowns. It is part of Walker's larger plan to address racial and financial inequity in the arts, and shift the culture of philanthropy towards a more equitable future. He has been a true catalyst for positive change—shifting power towards those who need it most.

Join Dance Magazine in celebrating Darren Walker at the December 7 virtual Dance Magazine Awards ceremony. Tickets are now available here.



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July 2021