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The Community Foundation Blog

Arts by everyone, for everyone
By The Community Foundation / October 9, 2019
Arts by everyone, for everyone

A vibrant arts and culture scene can do a lot of good for a community. Not only is the nonprofit arts industry a $360 million economic engine for our region, but regular exposure to the arts increases students’ test scores, improves school attendance, teaches teamwork, and opens minds to new perspectives.

“It’s not just about having great murals and great theatre and great music,” said Scott Garka, President & CEO of CultureWorks. “It’s about the impact that arts and culture have on a community: economic impact, educational impact, social impact. All that comes together to build a stronger community.”

CultureWorks has become the leading champion and advocate for Richmond’s arts and culture institutions. It supports more than 200 artists and organizations by facilitating networking and artistic collaborations, promoting arts and cultural events and providing pro-bono consultation. They also run an annual grant program that helps make organizations and artists more sustainable, including a new category focused on Cultural Equity.

“There are many people that don’t know about or don’t have access to arts and culture because of barriers like cost, geography or disability,” Garka said. “Our grants provide investments that can help overcome these barriers.”

With a similar focus on equity and access, the Community Foundation has developed a unique partnership with CultureWorks by pooling resources from its Community Arts Endowment to bolster the Cultural Equity program. Organizations benefit from a streamlined process and the Foundation benefits from CultureWorks’ vast knowledge and network, ensuring these dollars will have the greatest impact. 

In 2019, 14 organizations and professional artists received Cultural Equity grants, such as Stavna Ballet and their Stavna reach program which makes dance more accessible to youth in the East End of Richmond.

"Our mission is to drive a vibrant community through arts and culture," Garka said, "and to achieve this, we believe arts and culture needs to be by and for everyone."

To learn more about arts and culture in the Richmond region, click here to view our Fall 2019 Arts & Culture Impact Report.

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