Voice, Creativity and Culture

The Nathan Cummings Foundation


Voice, Creativity and Culture

NCF is guided by the Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam, which is defined by acts of kindness and a commitment to social justice to repair the world. Over 25 years, we helped build the fields of Jewish social justice and art and social justice and promoted coalitions among progressive cultural and faith communities. These remain powerful fields for advancing our work today.

Using our voices, creativity and culture has the power to transform communities, making them more just, more vibrant, more generative and more fully realized. When communities tap into the power of the arts, they gain greater capacity to be meaningful participants in charting the course of their collective destiny. Over millennia, culture has been a primary means for sharing and maintaining traditions, stories, rituals, languages, hopes and dreams, and artists have told truths and provided vision that reflect a people’s culture — something that remains true today.

As a Foundation rooted in the Jewish tradition, and based on 25 years of funding experience, NCF has developed an appreciation for, and understanding of, a broad spectrum of religious traditions. These can be particularly powerful approaches to social change in the contexts in which we operate. Contemplative practices, such as meditation, cultivate a critical focus and act as a reminder to connect to what we find most meaningful.

All of these disciplines remain vitally important to our world.

Working together, we can help repair breaches in the social fabric and decrease the divides plaguing our society by raising the voices of artists, religious leaders and culture bearers to shift the dominant narratives about race, class, gender and ethnicity. Culture change is a necessary and underused pathway to advance systems change. Stories have the power to connect us and expand our capacity for radical empathy. We encourage voices and values that address the imbalanced power dynamics that make it difficult to expand racial and economic justice and combat climate change, and give authenticity and agency to communities that bear the brunt of these consequences.

To harness the power of arts and culture, religious traditions, and contemplative practices, NCF will support innovative ideas and programs that:

  • Amplify the voices and movements that expand public discourse about equality, justice and solving the threats brought by climate change;
  • Advance cultural, artistic, religious and spiritual traditions and identities that reinforce social justice values; 
  • Shift perspectives by supporting the development and adoption of new narratives that nurture empathy, understanding and a culture of shared responsibility;
  • Strengthen opposition to entrenched power structures and hold the powerful accountable; and
  • Incorporate the use of contemplative practices that support creativity and empathy and deepen relationships to advance social change.

For information on how to submit a Letter of Inquiry (LOI), click here.