Creative Commonwealth

Summer 2019 Creative Courts by the New Bedford Art Museum- Public Art Grantee
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.

From January-June 2019, we offered a cohort-style capacity building training series that met monthly. Topics covered during the sessions included:

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

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

We are extending the cohort beyond the first installation of training and will continue to provide training opportunities for the cohort and the community-at-large. 

Saturday, October 5th from 9am-3pm, we are hosting a free workshop with Springboard for the Arts. Click here for a full event description and to RSVP. 

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.

The application window for 2020 has passed. Stay tuned for the announcement of grant recipients by June 1st! We will have another grant round open in Winter 2021.

Grant Timeline (subject to change)

  • Letter of Interest Due: Monday, February 24th 11:59pm
  • Applicants Invited to Full Application Stage: by Monday, March 30th 
  • Full Applications Due: Monday, April 27th 11:59pm
  • Grantees Announced: by Monday, June 1st 

Contact Rayana Grace, Arts and Culture Program Manager, with questions: 

Get Out and Art!


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

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