Cover of “Narrative Infrastructure for Narrative Immersion: A Strategic Grantmaking Framework” by Tracy Van Slyke, Chief Strategy Officer, Pop Culture Collaborative.

Want Narrative Power? Invest in Narrative Infrastructure.

Introducing a new guide for social justice narrative infrastructure grantmaking

Entertain Change attendees sitting on two sides of a long table, eating and talking.
Pop culture narrative change field members breaking bread together at ENTERTAIN CHANGE, a two-day Pop Culture Collaborative-hosted gathering in 2018.
  1. Social justice funders are getting into position to support narrative change work at scale. More philanthropic peers are exploring and expanding their narrative infrastructure resourcing strategies, but also face questions on how to start and where to focus.
  2. We have no time to wait. White nationalist movements have spent decades investing in narrative infrastructure. Now they are using that narrative power to fundamentally transform this country into a society where most of us don’t belong, or even exist.

What we’ve learned and the urgency of now.

  • How does large-scale, enduring cultural transformation happen?
  • What narrative power does the field have now, and what narrative power is needed to create enduring, cultural transformation?
  • Are the most vital leaders, who sit at the heart of the narrative vision, accessing the scale and continuity of investments that build their narrative power?
  • What are the narrative infrastructure gaps or barriers to expanding their narrative power?

We need to challenge our impulse to change the narrative on a particular issue and instead embrace the hard work of transforming whole narrative oceans.

Narrative infrastructure makes narrative immersion possible.

Philanthropy can meet this moment.

  • LEADERSHIP. Cultivating visionary leadership, pathbreaking organizations, and field-wide partnerships.
  • INTELLIGENCE. Supporting narrative landscape analysis and power mapping, industry and audience research, and ongoing learning and evaluation.
  • COLLABORATION. Funding organizational hubs and cultural strategy that braid together creative communities and cross-sector field members via convenings, partnership development, and network weaving.
  • POWER. Resourcing artist- and field-led pipelines and industry organizing that creates new entry points and bypasses/and eliminates systemic barriers inside narrative industries.
  • INNOVATION. Investing in organizations, companies, and platforms that decide the means of production and distribution.
  • COMMUNITY. Building networks and initiatives that create and fortify pluralist communities (i.e. pop culture fandoms).
  • Define your VALUES.
  • Know the FIELD.
  • Analyze POWER.
  • Identify sites of INNOVATION.
  • Invest in narrative INFRASTRUCTURE ECOSYSTEMS.
  • Support and evaluate over MULTIPLE YEARS.



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Pop Culture Collaborative

The Pop Culture Collaborative is a philanthropic resource and funder learning community working to transform the narrative landscape in America