E. San San Wong, Barr Foundation 

TITLE: Senior Program Officer

FUNDING AREAS: Arts and Creativity

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

IP TAKE: Wong has worked with a numerous foundations in major cities around the country. While introducing arts to the youth of Boston and keeping kids in tune with their culture have been huge priorities for Wong, grantmaking strategies have shifted, started in 2016 when the Barr Foundation announced a new Arts and Creativity program. 

PROFILE: E. San San Wong has been with the Barr Foundation since 2012, and she's certainly no newcomer to the world of philanthropy. In 2012, she made her way across the country from one great philanthropic city to another when she transitioned from San Francisco to Boston. These days, she's directing the Barr Foundation's Arts and Creativity portfolio, which aims to enhance the vitality of the arts in Boston.

Prior to joining the Barr team, Wong served as director of grants for the San Francisco Arts Commission. Her focus was cultural equity grants and strengthening the arts community through knowledge-building activities. Before that, she was executive director of the National Performance Network, director of development and special initiatives at Theatre Artaud, and a producer/presenter for performing arts. She's worked on the international level as a consultant, advising clients such as the Ford Foundation, the New England Foundation for the Arts, Res Artis, and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Wong's resume also lists the Rasmuson Foundation, the East Bay Community Foundation, and the Silicon Valley Arts Council, for which she was a member of funding allocation panels.

Wong is the Barr Foundation's first full-time arts program officer, and she secured the gig with a unique combination of arts management and philanthropy experience. She got her start at Smith College with a bachelor's degree and then earned a master's in community psychology at New York University. Although Wong has worked primarily in San Francisco and New York, she grew up in Roxbury, Massachusetts and has family ties in this area.

As Wong announced, the current Arts and Creativity program focuses on helping arts organizations be adaptive and relevant at a time when audiences for traditional art forms are declining, connecting the arts with other “sectors” such as science and technology, and advancing public support for the arts. Arts & Creativity includes key investments in programs like the Barr-Klarman Arts Capacity Building Initiative and ArtPlace America.  Grantseekers can read more here about Barr’s Arts & Creativity strategy, the grantmaking process, and how to make a grant-seeking inquiry.

Since Wong has worked with so many different types of philanthropic foundations in the past, she has done well at collaborating with other local philanthropies, such as The Klarman Family Foundation, for arts funding. In 2012, Barr also partnered with The Boston Foundation to revitalize the non-concluded Culture for Change program, which provided for youth development, racial justice education, and artistic exploration. Wong is also responsible for promoting civic arts policy and engaging new donors who are devoted to a wide span of disciplines.