Representatives of the 2018-2019 Fund for the Art Sustaining Impact Grantees

Text is copyright © 2018, Photos courtesy Fund for the Arts.

On September 29, the final performance of Pandora Productions’ Cabaret included a pre-show reception framed by Fund for the Arts (FFTA) banners and an onstage announcement before the curtain speech of Artistic Director Michael Drury. In the words of one local arts watcher, it was “huge!”

Kat Abner, Vice President for Community Impact at the Fund, revealed that Pandora was one of nine local organizations that would be receiving Sustaining Impact Grants for the first time. The action is a significant shift in the approach to supporting local organizations and is a part of Imagine 2020, an evolutionary shift in grantmaking process for the FFTA, which facilitates the largest arts grant program in Kentucky, built from one of the oldest united arts campaigns in the country.

Over the years, the Fund has changed the terminology – arts groups who receive annual allotments were once called “members” but several years ago that designation was changed to “cultural partners”. It was an early step in updating the public profile of the organization after years of criticism from many individuals and companies who had never received money from the FFTA.

Bunbury Theatre Artistic Director Juergen Tossman & Kat Abner.

When I spoke to Abner a few days later, I asked when was the last time the Fund expanded its roster of regular grantees, she confessed that none of the current staff were certain, but that it had been more than 20 years. That there is no clear record illustrates how deeply meaningful is the potential in this change.

Besides Pandora Productions, the other new additions are AMPED, Arts Association of Oldham County, Bunbury Theatre, Looking for Lilith Theatre Company, Louisville Chorus, River City Drum Corps, The Speed Museum, and Squallis Puppeteers.

In the spring, the Fund continued the strategic change to its grant-making paradigm and launched an inclusive, competitive application process for Sustaining Impact Grants. The application was open to an expanded number of nonprofit arts organizations with demonstrated ability to deliver transformative arts experiences that drive impact across the Imagine 2020 priority areas.

As a result of its organizational evolution, the Fund reached a ten-year fundraising high this summer and is now able to impact more lives by providing more equitable and abundant access to the arts in the Greater Louisville region.

“These organizations are the cornerstone of our arts community and this critical operational support helps to fund their inspiring programs in our schools and neighborhoods as well as the world-class work they bring to our stages and museums,” said Christen Boone, President, and CEO of Fund for the Arts. “Collectively these organizations elevate Louisville as a leading city of arts and culture and deliver unprecedented access to the arts beyond nearly every other region in the nation.”

In addition to the Sustaining Impact Grants, the Fund for the Arts supports project and access grants to more than 100 artists and organizations, arts-in-education grants to more than 250 schools across the region, supports after-school programs and drives collective initiatives such as the Cultural Pass, Louisville Arts Link, and sector-wide capacity building.

The re-envisioning of the Fund’s general operating support investment initiative began in September of 2017 after the Fund ushered in a new strategic plan to redefine its role, broaden its scope of support in the community and ultimately drive the Imagine Greater Louisville 2020 plan. Imagine 2020 provides a blueprint, based on the community’s feedback, for developing and advancing a more educated, vibrant, accessible and competitive arts community.

The Kentucky Opera Association, who will utilize this support to reach more than 270,000 people per year, engage more than 47,000 youth per year and support more than 140 creators each year, is just one example of the impactful organizations receiving funding through this investment.

“The Fund’s support is instrumental as Kentucky Opera advances its mission of connecting people through stories that enrich our community,” said Kentucky Opera General Director Barbara Lynne Jamison.

Albert H. Shumake IV & Ed White of the River City Drum Corp.

Representatives from the River City Drum Corp Cultural Arts Institute also highlighted the importance of these grants in serving the region. The Sustaining Impact Grant will drive their community outreach and youth training initiatives that serve more than 53 schools and community centers reaching more than 3,500 youth per year.

“The mission of the River City Drum Corp Cultural Arts Institute, Inc. is to enhance the development of African-American families with children through education, arts and culture,” said Albert Shumake, Director of River City Drum Corp Cultural Arts Institute. “We’re grateful to the Fund for increasing their level of outreach and helping our organization engage more people and drive arts accessibility.”

Additionally, the Fund announced the creation of community affinity groups such as LGBTQ Pride and the Women Leadership Circle, with others in development. The groups reflect not only the commitment to a broader, more diverse arts culture but also a dedication to stronger engagement across the region, particularly with supporters of high-impact, resonant arts sectors.

2018-2019 Fund for the Art Sustaining Impact Grantees:

  • Actors Theatre of Louisville
  • Arts Association of Oldham County
  • Bunbury Theatre Company
  • Commonwealth Theatre Center
  • Kentucky Opera Association
  • Kentucky Shakespeare, Inc.
  • KMAC Museum
  • Looking for Lilith
  • Louisville Ballet
  • Louisville Chorus
  • The Louisville Orchestra, Inc.
  • Louisville Visual Art
  • Louisville Youth Choir
  • Louisville Youth Orchestra
  • Pandora Productions
  • River City Drum Corp
  • Speed Art Museum
  • Squallis Puppeteers
  • StageOne Family Theatre
  • West Louisville Performing Arts Academy