Press Release: Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation among five community foundations joining new partnership to strengthen arts and creativity across Massachusetts

Press Release: Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation among five community foundations joining new partnership to strengthen arts and creativity across Massachusetts

Grants totaling $2.5 million from the Barr Foundation aim to boost educational, social and economic power of the arts

 

January 30, 2018

Sheffield, Mass.Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation and The Barr Foundation, a private foundation based in Boston, today announced the launch of Creative Commonwealth, a partnership among Barr, Berkshire Taconic and four other Massachusetts community foundations. This new initiative is rooted in the belief that investments in arts and creativity build thriving communities, and it aims to promote the vital leadership role community foundations can play to advance the arts.

Creative Commonwealth will pave the way for community foundations to deepen and grow support for artists and cultural organizations. Along with Berkshire Taconic, the community foundations partnering with Barr on this effort are: Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts, Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, Essex County Community Foundation and Greater Worcester Community Foundation.

Berkshire Taconic has been awarded a $500,000 grant over two years to leverage the strength of the region’s arts sector to increase community engagement. BTCF will bring diverse groups of local residents and arts institutions closer together through grantmaking, investing in nonprofit capacity and collaboration. This focus emerged from a planning process the foundation undertook in 2017 with Barr funding to assess needs and identify opportunities to advance the arts and the creative process in Berkshire County.

“Strengthening community engagement is a strategic priority for Berkshire Taconic, along with increasing educational attainment and economic opportunity among residents,” said Peter Taylor, president of Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation. “Being a part of the Creative Commonwealth initiative will allow us to partner with cultural 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.”

“In 2016, Barr expanded the scope of its Arts & Creativity program to a statewide focus,” said Jim Canales, president and trustee of the Barr Foundation. “This shift necessitates our identifying many partners across the Commonwealth with deep knowledge and relationships in various communities. Through Creative Commonwealth, we aim to deepen our partnership with community foundations in Massachusetts, who each bring that knowledge, along with the trust of their donors and communities, to expand support for arts and creativity.”

Although Massachusetts has thousands of artists and cultural organizations, philanthropic support is unevenly distributed. Creative Commonwealth aims to address this challenge by increasing local arts and culture funding networks across the state, making the entire sector more sustainable, equitable and accessible.

“Massachusetts is full of creative talent and cultural assets that have the power to bring communities together. Yet, access to funding can be uneven based on geography,” said San San Wong, director of arts & creativity at the Barr Foundation. “Community foundations are important civic leadership institutions, with the potential to bridge that gap, connecting donors who want to make meaningful investments in the places they care about, and strengthening the capacity of artists and organizations whose work enlivens communities.”

In addition to supporting activities within each community, Barr will also invest additional resources to help Creative Commonwealth partners learn from each other’s work, deepen knowledge about best practices, and share relevant lessons with the broader field. Partners will also be posting updates (and encouraging others in their communities to do so as well) on social media using #CreativeCommonwealth.

About Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation

Now in its 30th year, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation builds stronger communities through philanthropy and leadership in northwest Litchfield County, Conn.; Berkshire County, Mass.; and Columbia County and northeast Dutchess County, N.Y. A nonprofit public charity with over $150 million in assets, the foundation distributed a total of $6.5 million through grants and scholarships in 2017 to nonprofits and individuals in the arts and education, health and human services, and environmental protection. You can make a difference. We can help. www.berkshiretaconic.org

About The Barr Foundation

The Barr Foundation’s mission is to invest in human, natural, and creative potential, serving as thoughtful stewards and catalysts. Based in Boston, Barr focuses regionally, and selectively engages nationally, working in partnership with nonprofits, foundations, the public sector, and civic and business leaders to elevate the arts, advance solutions for climate change, and connect all students to success in high school and beyond. Founded in 1997, Barr now has assets of $1.7 billion, and has contributed more than $837 million to charitable causes. For more information, visit www.barrfoundation.org.

Other Creative Commonwealth Partners and Projects

The Essex County Community Foundation will sponsor two grant programs, lead regional and local cultural planning processes, and convene arts, social, business and municipal leaders in annual summits to strengthen networks to more fully integrate arts and culture into its communities.

The Greater Worcester Community Foundation will sponsor two grant programs and convene a leadership group to increase readiness for cultural planning.

The Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts will develop scalable models in the cities of Fall River and New Bedford to increase access to opportunities for artistic expression among youth and culturally diverse communities through cross-sector program collaborations, building capacity for small organizations to fundraise and develop, and growing and diversifying philanthropic investments in the arts.

The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts will support the development and testing of innovative ideas to connect the arts to other sectors, while also building the capacity of small organizations and assessing the need for a regional arts hub to advance collaborative opportunities.






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