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Berrien Community Foundation announces arts challenge grant

BERRIEN COUNTY —  Non-profit arts organizations of Berrien County have joined forces for one matching grant that will benefit them all.

The Berrien Community Foundation recently secured an anonymous donor who shared the love of the arts and brought residents together for a challenge to support local arts organizations. This donor has pledged $75,000 through BCF as a challenge gift to support the arts organizations noted below.

Participating in this challenge are:

  • The Acorn
  • ARS Gallery, Arts and Culture Center
  • The Citadel Dance and Music Center
  • Children’s Music Workshop
  • The GhostLight Theatre
  • Krasl Art Center
  • Performing Arts Workshops
  • Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra
  • Twin City Players
  • Water Street Glassworks

The 10 organizations involved serve communities all over Berrien County, providing experiences in various arts disciplines to all ages. From glass-blowing to early childhood music, from highly attended concerts to engaging workshops and classes, from cutting edge theatre to breathtaking galleries, these organizations provide cultural engagement in Berrien County, officials said.

“The arts are such an important part of our community,” said Berrien Community Foundation President Lisa Cripps-Downey. “We have relied on the arts to inspire and entertain, especially through the stay home order. These organizations supported us with virtual concerts, classes and art gallery tours. Theater costumers have sewn thousands of masks. Now it is our turn to show that same kind of support to them.”

Participating organizations sought unity rather than competition during this financially turbulent time. The many effects of COVID-19 have resulted in this much-needed collaboration. Inspired by the unity among arts organizations, an anonymous donor has pledged $75,000 as a matching challenge gift to support the arts organizations noted above. Every dollar donated will be matched. Therefore, this fundraising challenge has the potential to provide $150,000 or more in operating support.

“We all play an important role in our region, but when we come together for a common goal, it shines a spotlight on the arts as a whole. It gives emphasis to the value of what we all do for the community and the need to preserve it,” said Sue Kellogg of Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra.

“The fabric of a diverse society depends on arts education, opportunities, venues and funding. Together we can accomplish more than separately and continue to embrace all the Arts offerings we have in southwest Michigan,” added Susan Dietrich-Reed of The Citadel Dance and Music Center.

Through this opportunity, organizations have learned more about each other and connected in new ways. Not only has this new alliance formed for this challenge, the joint effort has sparked a desire for future collaboration to further enrich the communities of Berrien County, officials said.

“The arts are stronger together,” said. Adrienne Glisson of Children’s Music Workshops. “The opportunity to share resources and ideas with each other has been a wonderful experience, one that I hope can continue after our ‘challenge’ is complete.”

Each organization’s leadership along with their respective boards of directors have already made contributions. These collective contributions have achieved $29,160 of the $75,000 goal. The involved organizations are now seeking the support of the community to raise the remaining $45,840 in a campaign that will run from July 8 to Aug. 15. Donors may also participate in an online auction of items donated by the organizations involved that will run July 15 to July 31.

Contributors may send checks to Berrien Community Foundation at 2900 S. State Street, Ste. 2E, St. Joseph, MI 49085 or donate on their website, berriencommunity.org/artschallenge.

Contact Lisa Cripps-Downey with any further questions at Lisa@BerrienCommunity.org or (269) 983-3486.

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