Arts Strategy Gains Momentum

Strengthening the Arts has been an activity of The Foundation since its earliest years. Read about the latest efforts

Guilford Art Center. Photo Credit: Gale Zucker

The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven has a long and proud history of supporting Arts in our region.

In 1948, The first fund designated to support local Arts organizations was established by deed of trust by Mr. Walter E. Malley. He and his wife Anna requested that three-fifths of the income from their fund be used for the New Haven Orchestra Association's general expenses and two-fifths to purchase inexpensive tickets to concerts of the Associatio for members of orchestras from local high schools, "so the children could observe closely the technique of the various musicians."

Beginning in 1980, The Foundation embarked on an Arts Challenge to prompt community arts groups to broaden their funding sources and to help provide future funds by creating a permanent Arts endowment Fund. For each dollar raised for the Arts Fund by a participating arts organization, The Foundation returned the dollar plus a bonus for operating support. The level of the match was determined by the size of the arts organization.

Twenty years later, The Foundation joined a consortium of public and private sector funders to launch The Greater New Haven Arts Stablization Project. Participating nonprofits included: Arts and Ideas New Haven, Creative Arts Workshop, Guilford Handcraft Center, Long Wharf Theatre, Neighborhood Music School, New Haven Colony Historical Society (now New Haven Museum), New Haven Symphony Orchestra and the Shubert Theatre. In addition to contributing $1 Million to support the Project, The Foundation acted as fiduciary for the endeavor which aimed to provide financial and technical assistance to strengthen eight arts organizations. When the Project concluded, total working capital improved by $5.8 Million for eight 'anchor' institutions.

Between 2002-2017, The Community Foundation granted more than $8.5 Million to arts and culture organizations from 125 different funds.

And in 2013, The Foundation's Board identified a need and interest in strengthening the arts sector in Greater New Haven after interviewing fifteen local arts and culture organizations.

The Foundation adopted a three-pronged approach to strengthening the arts community 1) new, local funds would need to be raised for the arts, 2) audience development, diversification and technology integration would need to be prioritized in grantmaking for the arts and 3) The Foundation would need to continue to provide operating support and capital grants to arts 'anchor' institutions.
Since the Arts Strategy was adopted, working groups have been convened by The Foundation and four initiatives have been identified for moving toward the goal of strengthening the arts sector. These initiatives include:

  • creating a digital hub for consumer access to the arts
  • mounting a community-wide planned giving campaign
  • pursuing combined 'asks' for significant investment and
  • exploring shared service models.

The Arts Council of Greater New Haven (ACGNH) has secured funding from the National Endowment for the Arts to tackle the first initiative and create a digital hub. ACGNH has already enlisted the area's top technology professionals to contribute to the hub's design.

The other 3 initiatives are progressing as well.

Stakeholders are gathering on a regular basis to explore the messaging and necessary resources for a community-wide planned giving campaign.

The group has also shown success in fundraising through combined 'asks.' To date, $50,000 was raised for a consortium of 15 arts organizations from Medtronic, a global leader in medical technology, services, and solutions that has a facility located in North Haven. The Bank of America Charitable Foundation also provided a matching pool of $10,000 to incentivize donors to give to performing arts organizations during The Great Give® 2018. Community Engagement professionals have also started to meet on a quarterly basis as part of this intiative.

Other ideas generated by the convening of Arts stakeholders on how to strengthen the Arts include: creating a video on the impact of the arts for use in corporate and academic recruiting, establishing a new resident orientation and pursuing business partnerships; addressing transportation as a barrier to audience participation; exploring the possibility of a combined Arts Campaign.