Creative Commonwealth

July 2017 Community Conversation at the Narrows Center for the Performing Arts


About Creative Commonwealth

Building Blocks for Nonprofits

Together is Better

Building Philanthropy


Get Out and Art!

About Creative Commonwealth

Through a partnership with the Barr Foundation in Boston, the Community Foundation is pleased to announce the unique and dynamic Creative Commonwealth initiative to fund arts and culture programs and initiatives throughout New Bedford and Fall River in 2018 and 2019. Using information gathered from our inclusive Community Conversations (Read the New Bedford transcripts) (Read the Fall River transcripts) in the summer of 2017, we have laid the groundwork for determining the most effective use of funding to meet the areas of greatest need, including:

  • Increase access and artistic expression in New Bedford and Fall River, with a focus on underserved, youth, culturally diverse, and immigrant populations.
  • Improve collaboration and build capacity in our collective creative community using a model that can be replicated throughout the region
  • Grow and diversify philanthropic investment in arts and culture.

Under the guidance and direction of our Arts & Culture Committee--comprised of an immensely talented and eclectic mix of volunteers from throughout the South Coast--we will move forward over the next two years with grants and capacity-building opportunities for non-profits, as well as building a network for art serving organizations in our region.

Our Goals

1. Youth and culturally diverse communities are better supported and engaged and their artistic expressions are more visible and respected.

2. Arts and cultural organizations are better connected and networked to address community engagement challenges and opportunities.

3. Support and audiences for culturally-specific and emerging arts and cultural organizations increases.

4. Public awareness of and support for public art projects increases among municipal and business leaders.

5. Staff and volunteers participating in capacity-building activities are better equipped to manage and/or steward their nonprofit organizations.

6. The Community Foundation is a leader in cultivating arts donors.

Building Blocks for Nonprofits

Many burgeoning Arts & Culture nonprofit organizations in New Bedford and Fall River provide access to the arts for youth and culturally-diverse populations and feed new ideas, lift-up voices, and drive innovation. Through our research, the Community Foundation has found that these grassroots groups often operate on limited budgets without adequate resources nor expertise to strategically grow and sustain their organizations. Through our Creative Commonwealth Initiative, the Community Foundation will invest in building the capacity of these smaller organizations.

Beginning in January 2019, we will offer a cohort-style capacity building training series that will meet monthly over the course of six months. Examples of topics to be covered during the sessions include:

  • Fundraising
  • Marketing and branding
  • Board governance
  • Financial management
  • Human resources and compliance
  • Performance evaluation
  • Program development, and more. 

The training will include multiple multi-hour sessions and a few hours of one-on-one consultation. The combination of cohort style training, which will allow for networking and idea sharing, along with the personal training will provide participants with a new set of tools for them to more successfully execute their organization’s mission. Organizations that successfully complete the training series cohort will receive a mini-grant at the conclusion of the program.

Together is Better

Improving upon the Arts and Culture network of organizations and artists both in Fall River and New Bedford. We expect that this will lead to greater collaboration and better shared knowledge and resources.

Building Philanthropy

By increasing our internal capacity we will be able to serve our community in greater ways and extend our outreach especially with social media and networking. We also aim to further develop our knowledge to promote diversity, access, and opportunity in our community, specifically surrounding our engagement with the arts.


Through funding projects and programs, we anticipate and look forward to several outcomes that will benefit our community. The vision of the Creative Commonwealth aims to expand the collaboration among youth-serving agencies and arts and culture organizations to maximize participation in current and new offerings.  

Additionally, by implementing programs that engage new philanthropic investment in culturally diverse populations we can help to build trust while improving the overall perception of our cities. We will actively seek proposals from organizations engaging youth and serving culturally diverse populations and immigrants. In alignment with one of our key partners, the Barr Foundation’s Arts and Creativity Program, we welcome applicants that embrace artistic risk-taking and bold organizational change; expand the diversity of creative experiences and audiences; and present work that inspires with its excellence and relevance.

Cultural Expression Grants

The Creative Commonwealth Initiative will award several grants to help elevate the cultural and artistic expression of culturally diverse and immigrant communities in Fall River and New Bedford. The Community Foundation seeks to fund efforts that are organized and driven by these communities. Our intent is to encourage and support the celebration of authentic cultures and the creative expression of historically under-invested populations. Proposals should be reflective of the needs and interests of the populations they wish to serve.

Projects should be underway by December 2019.

Grant Awards up to $20,000.

Examples of acceptable proposed projects include, but are not limited to:

  • Concerts
  • Exhibits
  • Festivals
  • Performances
  • Speakers/Presentations
  • Visual arts

Grant Applicant Requirements

  • Must be a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit, municipality, or educational institution. Organizations and individual artists may collaborate with groups, however the applicant listed must have 501 (c)(3) status
  • Project must serve and take place in New Bedford or Fall River
  • Demonstrate history of serving or the capacity to serve culturally diverse populations
  • Align with our vision for the Creative Commonwealth 

Granting Timeline

  • Friday, March 8th 2019- Letters of Interest open
  • Friday, April 5th 2019- Letters of Interest due by 11:59pm
  • Friday, April 26th 2019- Invitations to submit a Full Proposal sent
  • Friday, May 17th 2019- Full Proposals due by 11:59pm
  • End of June 2019- Awards Announced

Please contact Rayana Grace, Arts and Culture Program Manager with any application questions:

Get Out and Art!


Click Here to learn more about how YOU can get involved in Arts and Culture in your community! 

Sign up for our newsletter and Like us on Facebook to stay up to date with new information!