Welcome to our new monthly blog, where we plan to highlight the resources the Community Foundation is providing to advance arts and culture in the South Coast region.
First, a bit of background: Four years ago, the SouthCoast Community Foundation was selected as one of five community foundations in Massachusetts to participate in the Creative Commonwealth Initiative. This 10-year partnership with the Barr Foundation (Boston) was launched to elevate the arts and creative expression across the state. Through that initiative, the Creative SouthCoast Initiative (CSI) of the SouthCoast Community Foundation was formed. The overall goals of CSI are:
- To increase access and artistic expression in Fall River and New Bedford, focusing on the underserved, youth, culturally diverse, and immigrant populations;
- To foster collaboration and strengthen our collective creative community;
- And to grow and diversify philanthropic investment in arts and culture.
To achieve these, CSI is providing technical assistance, workshops, convenings, and grants.
The Covid-19 pandemic in 2020-21 brought new challenges for all, as we know. For many organizations in the arts community — with museums, galleries, performance space shuttered – the question of “what to do?” was quite literally existential. But rather than accept defeat, the SouthCoast arts community came together and found creative ways to reimagine, rebuild, and inspire all. The CSI shifted its grantmaking away from specific projects to Emergency Response Grants, quickly distributing funds to its arts and culture partners to use however their organization most needed. (This was part of the Community Foundation’s shift towards “trust-based” philanthropy to remove the burden of arduous grant applications, especially in times of crisis.)
As we look ahead in 2022, in addition to strategic grantmaking, the Creative SouthCoast Initiative will focus on the following activities:
- Creative Community Building — Providing targeted support to creative intermediaries (such as AHA!, the Fall River Arts & Culture Coalition, and New Bedford Creative) to strengthen their work.
- Capacity Building — Providing resources for our existing cohort of small arts and culture organizations in New Bedford and Fall River and arts intermediaries to increase their ability to sustain and grow.
- Arts Philanthropy — Cultivating support in the region by connecting philanthropists with unique opportunities to engage with arts organizations, artists, and current projects.
- Youth Outreach — Collaborating with partners such as the New Bedford Housing Authority, the New Bedford Youth Alliance, Dream Out Loud, and the New Bedford Art Museum to bring arts education to our region’s youth.
Through all our CSI work — and this blog — we hope to build awareness of the rich creativity in our region. Ultimately our two aims are to develop sustainable ways to support the region’s arts sectors as they grow and flourish and to attract long-term funding for this purpose. We hope you will join us on this journey!
Jagged Edges Mural by Rene Gagnon. Photo courtesy of Fall River Fabric Festival.