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Community Foundation of the Ozarks Announces Arts Sustainability Initiative

There’s a new effort to ensure arts organizations in Springfield and surrounding areas are sustainable. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

The Community Foundation of the Ozarks is committing 150 thousand dollars to create the Arts Programming Sustainability Initiative. The idea is to commit dollars and other resources to something that arts organizations themselves have little time to do: plan for the future. Gloria Galanes is a professor of communication at Missouri State University and serves on the Arts Programming Sustainability Committee. She says people who work for arts organizations usually spend most of their time attending to immediate needs.

Part of the initiative begins this March with a coordinated, 8-week effort called Festival of the Arts. During the festival, a number of area arts organizations will ask patrons and audience members to donate their spare change. That money will be split evenly between Care to Learn, a program that helps Springfield school students who are in need and a new endowment dedicated to arts education outreach. Galanes explains what the endowment will fund.

The Arts Programming Sustainability Initiative includes funds for a new position, an Arts Sustainability Coordinator. Leah Hamilton Jenkins is leaving the Springfield Regional Arts Council to take on this new position. Jenkins will help establish the new endowment. She’ll also serve as a point person for schools interested in having arts organizations provide programs to their students. Katie Cornwell is Business Affairs Manager for the Springfield Ballet. She says this service will be a valuable part of the what the arts sustainability coordinator will do.

The Community Foundation of the Ozarks decided to move away from handing out grants to arts organizations and focus on sustainability because that’s what arts groups said they wanted. Randy Russell is Senior Program Officer for the Community Foundation.

Russell says moving from grants to a broader initiative has worked well because arts organizations are especially well suited to working collaboratively.

The initiative also includes a component designed to strengthen the boards of directors for arts organizations.