For Immediate Release
Media Contact:
Lisa Cripps-Downey
Berrien Community Foundation
Ten Local Arts Organizations Discovered the Power of Unity!
Group Meets Challenge to Support the Arts
Mission Accomplished! The Berrien Community Foundation (BCF) Arts Challenge has reached their goal of collectively raising $75,000, and then some! Inspired by arts organizations' desire to collaborate, an anonymous donor pledged to match up to $75,000 to support local arts organizations. Thus, the BCF Arts Challenge had the potential to provide $150,000 or more in much needed operating support for the ten participating organizations. The BCF Arts Challenge campaign concluded this week raising $216,048.96 as of August 28, 2020.  

Together, all ten organizations and their incredible donors accomplished something spectacular! 

Planning for the BCF Arts Challenge started in May when leaders from each organization unified for a common goal: raising $75,000 to meet the donor challenge! They came together for this challenge and now they come together again in gratitude. This new arts alliance couldn’t have done it without their dedicated patrons and supporters. 

“It is becoming crystal clear that this community loves and supports the arts,” said BCF President Lisa Cripps-Downey. People stepped up to help ensure our arts organizations can survive and thrive. Whether it was the gift of the cost of a ticket, or a membership, or what you would drop in a donation box on your way out, it was all significant and helped to meet this amazing challenge.” 

Through this amazing opportunity, all ten organizations learned more about each other and connected in new ways. Through our joint efforts, a new alliance has been formed; sparking a desire for future collaboration to further enrich our arts community. 

“This has been about teamwork, trust, communication,” said ARS Gallery, Arts and Culture Executive Director Anna Russo Sieber. “It’s also been about support, encouragement, and working together! It has been uplifting, during tough times throughout our community and the world and it evokes hope!” 

Participating organizations (below) sought unity rather than competition during this financially turbulent time. “Why struggle alone when we can achieve more together?” said Larry Nielsen of Twin City Players. 

The many effects of COVID-19 resulted in this much-needed collaboration. Susan Dietrich-Reed of The Citadel Dance and Music Center said, "This Challenge has been a lifesaver in many ways. Not only has it ensured our short-term sustainability through difficult times, it's also inspired us to continue working together for long term Arts sustainability in Southwest Michigan". 

The Ten Arts Organizations Involved: 

  • 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 Acorn’s Executive Director Sandra Thompson shared, “The experience of working together with these other arts organizations in Berrien County has been truly inspiring. I am so proud of the quality, richness and variety of offerings these 10 arts organizations bring to our local communities. What a great place to visit. What a great place to live. Losing any one of these organizations due to the pandemic crisis we are experiencing would be damaging to our economic and cultural vitality.” 
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