MacKenzie Scott, a novelist who also happens to be the former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, announced today that she has donated a staggering $2.7 billion to 286 organizations across the country—including many affiliated with the arts, such as the Studio Museum in Harlem, the New England Foundation for the Arts, and United States Artists.
This marks the third time in 12 months that Scott, whose fortune Forbes recently estimated at $60 billion, has issued a wave of donations worth a combined ten figures. It’s also the first time she has funded arts organizations at scale. (The latest round of recipients also includes racial justice groups, universities, and other organizations.)
Absent from the list of arts recipients are big names that wealthy donors often favor, such as the Museum of Modern Art or Lincoln Center. Instead, Scott opted to fund smaller, largely BIPOC-led groups including Project Row Houses in Houston, Texas; the Laundromat Project and Recess in Brooklyn, New York; the East Bay Fund For Artists in Oakland, California; El Museo de Arte Puerto Rico in San Juan; and the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, Illinois.
In another departure from traditional high-dollar cultural philanthropy, Scott provides the funds up front and without restrictions, to be used however the organizations see fit.
“Arts and cultural institutions can strengthen communities by transforming spaces, fostering empathy, reflecting community identity, advancing economic mobility, improving academic outcomes, lowering crime rates, and improving mental health,” Scott wrote in blog post announcing the news, “so we evaluated smaller arts organizations creating these benefits with artists and audiences from culturally rich regions and identity groups that donors often overlook.”