Atlanta-based nonprofit Southern Arts receives $1.175M gift from Alice L. Walton Foundation – WABE

The Atlanta-based nonprofit regional arts organization South Arts has received a gift of $1.175 million from the Alice L. Walton Foundation, the philanthropic foundation funded by the daughter and heiress of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton.

The gift will support Southern Cultural Treasures, a $6 million multi-year initiative at South Arts to fund cultural organizations throughout the region led by and primarily serving Black, indigenous, and people of color.

“[The] Southern Cultural Treasures initiative plays a critical role in ensuring the future of organizations that contribute to the history, culture, and vitality of this region,” said Alice Walton in an announcement from South Arts. “Our foundation focuses on providing access to offerings that improve well-being and create diverse and inclusive communities, and we are honored to take part in this opportunity to support these organizations.”

Past recipients of funds from the Southern Cultural Treasures initiative include the Atlanta-based True Colors Theater Company, founded in 2002 by Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon, and East Point-based Ballethnic Dance Company, which has received acclaim for its incorporation of African dance and ballet techniques in choreography and dance performance.

Outside of Atlanta, the Otis Redding Foundation in Macon and the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in Birmingham are among the Southern Cultural Treasures grantees announced earlier this year.

The gift to South Arts from the Alice L. Walton Foundation takes the form of a challenge grant, meaning its financial contribution is also being matched by other funders in order to maximize the total amount of funds raised. So far, this gift has been matched by the Florida-based Gobioff Foundation, Community Foundation Tampa Bay, and Community Foundation of Louisville. According to South Arts, the organization needs to raise approximately $520,000 in additional funding to achieve the matching grant’s full potential.

A longtime arts philanthropist, last year Walton also founded the Alice L. Walton School of Medicine in Bentonville, Arkansas, which will focus on a holistic approach to “mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health” and welcome its inaugural class in 2025.

Previously, her extensive art collection formed the basis of the permanent collection at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, which Walton also founded and opened in Bentonville in 2011. In 2020, the museum opened a nearby satellite location for contemporary and performance art, The Momentary.

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