February 19, 2019
Barr Foundation Gives $2.5M to Five Community Foundations

January 30, 2018 — The Barr Foundation, based in Boston, the largest private foundation in Massachusetts, today announced it has granted $500,000 to each of five community foundations across the state to help them advance the arts.

The two-year grants are a centerpiece of the Creative Commonwealth, a newly launched partnership between the Barr Foundation and the community foundations.

“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.”

Over the next two years each community foundation will pilot ideas customized to their community. These grants follow a year-long planning process funded by Barr, during which the foundations worked with community leaders to identify opportunities, needs, and priorities.

Barr said it also will provide 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.

Receiving the grants were the following:
  • The Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, based in Sheffield, will use the funds to increase participation by year-round residents, particularly lower-income populations, immigrants, youth, and communities of color through research, development of a grants program, and strengthening the field through capacity and networking building.

  • The Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts, based in New Bedford, will apply the funds to developing scalable models in 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, in Springfield, will use its grant to support development and testing of innovative ideas to connect the arts to other sectors, while building the capacity of small organizations and assessing the need for a regional arts hub to advance collaborative opportunities.

  • The Essex County Community Foundation in Danvers, will use the grant to 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, based in Worcester, will use the grant to sponsor two grant programs and advance an advocacy role in the city’s cultural planning efforts.
Although Massachusetts has thousands of artists and cultural organizations, philanthropic support is unevenly distributed, according to the Barr Foundation, which said Creative Commonwealth aims make the entire sector more sustainable, equitable, and accessible.

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