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Three New Community Foundations Join “Creative Commonwealth” Partnership – Cambridge, Greater Lowell, and MetroWest

Expanded initiative now includes eight community foundations. Next three years to feature new and deepened investments, experiments, and learning to advance more equitable, vibrant, and sustainable arts and creativity in communities across Massachusetts.

It is a joy to announce Cambridge Community Foundation, Community Foundation for MetroWest, and Greater Lowell Community Foundation as participants in Barr’s Creative Commonwealth Initiative. Each carries active commitment to arts and exciting aspirations that Barr will support through a three-year, $525,000 grant beginning in 2024. Their involvement promises new resources targeted to arts and creativity in even more parts of the state, as well as greater opportunities for alignment and collaboration through this novel partnership of private and community foundations.

The three new members join five community foundations that have been part of the Creative Commonwealth Initiative since inception in 2017: Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, Essex County Community Foundation, Greater Worcester Community Foundation, and SouthCoast Community Foundation. All partners do remarkable work to advance diverse, equitable arts and creative expression within their communities.

Barr’s collaboration with community foundations springs from a shared belief in the power of arts and creativity to transform communities, and in the unique role community foundations can play as civic leaders and catalysts of positive change.

All partners bring arts grantmaking experience, knowledge, and relationships to this work. Each embraces diversity and is growing its capacity for inclusive and just practices. The geographies they serve contain a density of arts organizations and cultures, including African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, and Native American, and are home to significant immigrant populations. We hope that progress within each of these regions also benefits the creative sector statewide – helping it become more equitable and grow its relevance, resources, and resilience.

CCW Creative Commonwealth 2023 Map

By advancing equity and resilience in arts ecosystems across eight regions, initiative partners improve the statewide arts ecosystem - elevating arts and creative expression as central to thriving, engaged communities throughout the Commonwealth.

New partners have their own starting points and focus within the initiative:

Cambridge Community Foundation. Arts and culture are core to the Cambridge Community Foundation’s commitment to social cohesion, which, alongside economic mobility, is a central pillar of its newly released strategic plan. Arts and culture strategies include ecosystem research, partnerships with local funders, support for arts organizations and artists, including access to local arts spaces, leadership development in established and emerging organizations, and relaunch of its Cultural Capital Fund.

Community Foundation for MetroWest. Arts are also a core program area for the Community Foundation for MetroWest. Convenings, capacity building, evaluation, and storytelling amplify grant investments. Current priorities include gaining a deeper understanding of arts stakeholders and ensuring that historically underrepresented voices, and under-resourced organizations, help shape the future of the sector.

Greater Lowell Community Foundation. “Mosaic Lowell” is Lowell’s arts, culture, and creative economy plan and has been the guiding framework for deepening the community foundation’s involvement with arts. Research and collaboration with arts and culture leaders across its service area will inform grantmaking for a stronger regional arts ecosystem.

These new Creative Commonwealth partners join a peer group that thrives on curiosity and innovation, is willing to take risks, and values learning. Barr and all eight community foundations are co-designing strategies and supports that will shape this collaboration through 2026.

We look forward to all that will come as our partners gather research, make new investments that enable arts and creativity to flourish in their regions, and cultivate new and increased philanthropy for local artists and arts organizations. And we look forward to sharing more in the new year, as the work and learning unfolds in the vital quest to elevate diverse, equitable arts and creative expression in Commonwealth communities.

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SueEllen Kroll

Senior Program Officer, Arts & Creativity