Supporting Bold and Daring Cultural Visionaries

Dear Friends and Partners—

As 2019 concludes, we are delighted to share with you a few projects and grants that reflect our feeling and ethos that, more than ever, #culturematters.

This year, we invested in daring and innovative artists, researchers, scholars, and teams creating cultural responses to today’s challenges.

Highlights include:

Providing contemporary African artists with world-class residencies

We were delighted that African artist Younes Baba-Ali (b. 1986) was the 2019 Tauck Ritzau Artist in Residence at the International Studio & Curatorial Program, the third annual resident to be selected for this residency. Baba-Ali’s wry, subversive art often unfolds in public streets. He is well known and appreciated in the African art community—he won a prestigious Léopold Sédar Senghor prize during the 2012 edition of Dak’Art, a biennial in Senegal—but less outside of the continent. He recently told us that during his residency he discovered in Manhattan’s Chinatown an underground economy, literally, of cans and bottles, and that because of this experience he is contemplating a new work that considers street survival.

Younes Baba-Ali, 2019 Tauck Ritzau Artist in Residence

Research that promotes mutual understanding and peace

Dr. Séverine Autesserre is an award-winning researcher, author on war and peace, and an expert in peacebuilding, international aid, and African civil wars, particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A professor of political science, she is the recipient of the Leth Family Fund for International Research, an endowed fund that allows a diverse cross section of Barnard College’s exceptional New York City faculty to deeply engage in research. We are very pleased to have supported her ability to research grassroots war and peace, which as she said to us “is not something that I can do by staying in my office in New York.”

Ensuring community-based refugee resettlement

Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services, or IRIS, is creating a national coalition of organizations that support refugees and the vitality brought by their cultural heritage, and we feel passionate about helping to cultivate energy and new sponsors in Connecticut. We are honored to have contributed underwriting to fund a growth strategy; production of an important video and web page; and turnout of more than 150 people forthe organization’s “Welcome to the New World” event with 2018 Pulitzer Prize recipient for Editorial Cartooning Jake Halpern, whose graphic narrative of the same name follows the lives of a Syrian refugee family after their arrival in the U.S.

2018 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning Jake Halpern, left, at “Welcome to the New World.”

Protection for threatened archaeological sites

Archaeological sites in the Middle East are under threat from war, climate change, and economic development, and one way to study and understand these sites is through photography. In 2018, we supported the University of Oxford’s research group Manar al-Athar to expand the number of images available on its website of archaeological sites in Syria. In 2019, the second installment of our support allowed the Manar al-Athar team to edit and upload more photographs of Petra, needed by organizations such as the Petra National Trust. As Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis, deputy director, said to us on the value of our gift, “private philanthropy is nimble and quick—de​te​ri​o​ration of these sites is happening and is real.”

Funerary Pylon Tomb (c. 1st century, A.D.) in Petra, Jordan.

Additional News

Robin has supported the launch of a new global social enterprise approach at America’s largest non-profit in the travel industry, Tourism Cares, in order to expand their work in underserved and post-disaster countries. In 2019, Puerto Rico was added to a list of seven countries, and bringing cultures together to support social enterprises will continue with Tourism Cares, Colombia in 2020.

Supporting new modes of art making; investing in breakthrough thinking and scholarship; and creating more inclusive, welcoming societies defined our grantmaking in 2019 and reflect our belief in the potential of culture.

We are looking forward to a very active and productive 2020, and we thank you for your ideas and friendship.

In partnership,

Robin Tauck and Colleen Ritzau Leth