“What cool things could people build with fewer barriers to access?” Maacah Davis is a philanthropist, speaker, consultant, and publisher whose wide variety of work seeks to answer that single question. She posits that if empathy is the antidote to cultural entropy, then arts funding is in many ways a humanitarian effort.
Maacah runs The Garden Grant, an international arts grant which supports experimental projects by diverse, multidisciplinary creatives. The Garden Grant seeks to redefine art and reform grant-making, both contributing to the global conversation of artistic merit, and critiquing accessibility in the grant-making space. One of the boldest ways Maacah challenges traditional grant-making is by directly funding grantees and providing support with limited restriction.
A Cameroonian-born American who grew up a Third Culture Kid, Maacah is a global citizen whose diverse life experiences inform her current capacity to curate environments and experiences that challenge and inspire. She leverages her unique position to bridge communication gaps across a variety of barriers like nationality, gender, religion, race, and wealth, among others.
Through her events, food gathering series, and publication, she facilitates critical conversations about culture, identity, the future of philanthropy, and supporting historically-excluded demographics in ways that are more meaningful than they are performative. Her work also affirms that whimsy is vital, and that marginalized artists should not be required to bare their traumas for support.
The themes of Maacah’s work are industry-agnostic. To anyone who has ever been afraid to take up space, she speaks about how override instinctive fears and thrive even in spaces that weren’t built to account for your existence, let alone your success. To leaders and philanthropists, Maacah speaks about:
- How to foster equitable spaces from the top down, and why it is important to shift the onus of responsibility as much to the people who have power as we place it on those who don’t.
- What an ethical world looks like in practice, not just in theory.
- Why everyone loses when marginalized people are socialized to practice fear-based communication, and what it takes to undo the damage.
Amplifying diverse voices since before it was trendy, Maacah works towards a media landscape where multifaceted, multicultural people control their own narratives.