Published on WNYC

When he was in his freshman year of college almost four decades ago, Darren Walker saw the Dance Theater of Harlem perform in Austin, Texas.

“It was a transformational experience,” said Walker, who is now president of the Ford Foundation, one of the nation’s largest grantmaking organizations.

After graduating, Walker moved to New York City a few years later in part, he said, because of the arts and his exposure to them growing up.

Now, as head of the foundation since 2013, he’s directing its $12.4 billion endowment to focus on inequality. And part of that effort includes examining how art and artists can address the problem, including issues of affordability and access in cities like New York.

For Walker, keeping a thriving arts scene matters. 

The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent organization working to address inequality and build a future grounded in justice. For more than 85 years, it has supported visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. Today, with an endowment of $16 billion, the foundation has headquarters in New York and 10 regional offices across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

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