BTCF Blog | Arts Build Community Initiative Awards $59,000 in Fir

BTCF Blog

Arts Build Community Initiative Awards $59,000 in First Grant Cycle

By Darryl Gangloff / April 19, 2019 / Community Engagement, News & Announcements
Arts Build Community Initiative Awards $59,000 in First Grant Cycle

Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation’s initiative to increase community engagement through the arts has awarded its first-ever grants to a range of community-based and arts nonprofits. The Arts Build Community (ABC) initiative granted a total of $59,210 to 10 organizations for projects that test emerging ideas to more effectively engage residents in the arts and creative process.

Projects were selected for their potential to address the most significant barriers to cultural participation for underserved Berkshire residents, particularly youth, people of color, immigrants and those from low-income communities. Through surveys, interviews and focus groups, BTCF’s community-based participatory research process identified these barriers as cost, transportation, social discomfort, time constraints, and fear of rejection based on race and social class. Local residents who were part of the research team that illuminated these barriers served as members of the grant review committee.

These awards mark the first round of the ABC initiative’s $200,000 competitive grantmaking program, which seeks to spur innovation among Berkshire County arts and cultural nonprofits as they launch new projects, expand existing programs and collaborate with other organizations.

Funded Projects

Center for Peace through Culture: $7,050 for Arts 4 Us, a pilot project to provide guided, personalized family visits, including transportation and meals, to the Norman Rockwell Museum or Jacob’s Pillow for families from Crosby Elementary School in Pittsfield, where 71 percent of students are economically disadvantaged.

Community Access to the Arts: $7,500 to launch a comprehensive communications strategy to reach students with disabilities and their families in seven Berkshire public school districts, part of a long-term plan to deepen engagement with CATA families—many of whom are low-income and not actively engaged in cultural activities.

Downtown Pittsfield Inc.: $7,500 to boost attendance at First Fridays Artwalks among school-age children and their families through increased, targeted marketing to lower-income residents, communities of color and immigrants.

Goodwill of the Berkshires and Southern Vermont: $3,450 for Building Community through the Arts, a pilot project to engage artists in reclaiming a vacant storefront and other underutilized spaces on Tyler Street in collaboration with organizations that serve youth and immigrants.

IS183 Art School of the Berkshires: $2,210 to host a Learning through the Arts Family Art Engagement Day aimed at removing the barriers of transportation, language and the feeling of not belonging in the arts community, and increasing participation in IS183's studio programs and events among public school families.

The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center: $6,500 for the New Communities Project, a partnership with multiple nonprofit partners to bring underserved audiences to live performances by headlining artists during the summer and fall of 2019, and to learn about barriers to participation from those audience members through focus groups and feedback.

MASS MoCA: $4,500 to develop a formal, sustainable model for collaboration with community partners through a Community Advisory Board that will ensure relevance of programming with local community members and more meaningfully serve them.

Railroad Street Youth Project/Jacob’s Pillow Dance Apprenticeship: $5,500 for a six-week series of professional workshops focused on exposing young people to dance and turning a passion for dance into career opportunities.

Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area: $7,500 to actively involve the immigrant community in planning and programming for the Westside Riverway Park, which will open in 2020 to serve the most ethnically diverse neighborhood in Berkshire County.

WAM Theatre: $7,500 for the Intergenerational Initiative, designed to bring together younger education program participants and the older patron community for collaborative performance and volunteer opportunities.

Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation launched the Arts Build Community initiative in 2018 to increase community engagement through a key regional asset—the arts and creative sector. With support from the Barr Foundation, BTCF is partnering with arts and cultural nonprofit organizations and year-round residents to test new approaches to community engagement that use the proven power of the arts to build trust, cooperation and unity, while strengthening the arts as a sector.

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