As we look forward to what 2018 will bring, it has us reflecting on 2017 – the big milestones, projects, awarded grants, community partnerships, Livingston Fellows, Honorees and more. Bonfils-Stanton Foundation continued to make strategic investments in Denver’s arts & culture organizations and nonprofit leadership which are essential to building a vibrant community. We also continued to progress with a heightened focus on equity, diversity and inclusion in our grantmaking.
The Foundation awarded over $3 million in support of 52 organizations representing diverse artistic disciplines including dance (both modern and classical), literary arts, music across many genres, theatre, visual arts, and film. An additional $340,000 supported the Foundation’s focus on leadership through the annual awards program and the Livingston Fellowship program.
In 2017, beyond supporting the many cultural organizations and programs we have been committed to, the Foundation awarded grants to several new organizations and projects that reflect the richness and diversity of Denver’s artistic offerings. The Athena Project received funding for a music festival showcasing women artists, while engaging in dialogue around women’s contributions to and challenges in the music industry. The Mizel Arts & Culture Center’s JAAMM Festival (Jewish Arts, Authors, Movies and Music) received its first grant from the foundation to support the three-week multi-disciplinary arts festival. Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop was awarded funding to support expansion of Writer’s Studio that brings leading contemporary authors to Denver to engage the public in conversation about critical issues of today including prominent author Claudia Rankine for a discussion around race and equity. Project support was provided for Denver’s hosting of the monumental series “Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads” by internationally acclaimed Chinese contemporary artist and activist Ai Weiwei.
Several grants were made in support of initiatives and projects that are intentional in reaching new and diverse audiences, allowing for greater access and participation in the arts. The Newman Center for the Performing Arts received assistance with Community Connections, an initiative designed to build community partnerships and expand outreach. Support was provided for Curious Theatre Company’s new vision for patron cultivation, development, and engagement. Funding for the Mexican Cultural Center allowed for outreach to primarily Latino audiences to engage in the Center’s signature programs including Día del Nino, Día de los Muertos, and El Latir de Mexico held at numerous partner organizations.
On occasion, the Foundation has the opportunity to make transformative capital gifts in support of major cultural institutions. In 2017, Rocky Mountain Public Media received a significant foundation grant for the new Buell Public Media Center. The Foundation’s gift will be directed to the KUVO performance studio that will feature live jazz and other music performances, and the development of programming that celebrates and preserves Denver’s rich jazz heritage.
Livingston Fellows and Annual Awards Program Highlights:
One of the Foundation’s most noteworthy programs is our Livingston Fellowship Program. It’s always exciting when we select and announce the upcoming class of Livingston Fellows. The Fellowship program helps drive promising nonprofit leaders who hold significant roles in Colorado’s nonprofit sector to new and profound heights. The Livingston Fellowship Program provides grants of $25,000 for each Livingston Fellow over two years, to invest in opportunities for advanced study, research, and professional development, with guidance from the Foundation team and their peers.
In the fall of 2017, we announced the upcoming 2018 class of Livingston Fellows – all providing incredible leadership to our communities through their organizations and roles. We introduced Harry Budisidharta, Chief Executive Officer, Asian Pacific Development Center; Ara Cruz, Executive Director, Café Cultura; Yoal Ghebremeskel, Co-Founder & Executive Director, Street Fraternity; Deidre Johnson, CEO & Executive Director, Center for African American Health; and Isabel McDevitt, Executive Director, Bridge House, as the newest Livingston Fellow class. This year we also had another successful Livingston Fellows retreat, applying principles of design thinking to challenges being faced around equity, as well as other convenings, such as partnering with University of Denver’s Barton Institute on the Bold Philanthropy day.
Bonfils-Stanton Foundation has taken great pride in honoring extraordinary Coloradans for nearly 33 years with our Annual Awards Program. The focus of the three awards reflects the Foundation’s philanthropic focus of supporting arts and culture by honoring an Artist Award recipient, Community Service and the Arts recipient, and a Science, Medicine and the Arts recipient. During the Annual Awards Luncheon in May 2017, we honored: Maria Mosina with the Artist Award, Stephen Seifert with the Community Service in the Arts Award, and The Art and Humanities in Healthcare Program on Anschutz Medical Campus with the Science, Medicine and the Arts Award. We welcome you to view photos from the 2017 Awards Luncheon and learn more about the Honorees on our website.
As part of the 2017 Annual Awards, we commissioned Jovan Mays to create a spoken work piece to kick-off the event. Jovan is a former Poet Laureate of Aurora, National Poetry Slam Champion and TED speaker and director of Your Writing Counts (a youth poetry program throughout Denver that has 200,000 annual students). He takes words and spins them to gold. Jovan’s spoken word piece was so well-received, we wanted to capture it visually. In July, we debuted ‘The Foundation’ short film, which was produced by Sam Pike Films around Jovan Mays’ artistic piece. You can watch it below:
Collaborations and Public Events:
In partnership with Hemera Foundation and Colorado Creative Industries, Bonfils-Stanton Foundation awarded the first year of grants under the Arts in Society initiative. Administered by RedLine, this initiative is designed to promote “cross-sector” work through the arts – in other words, engaging the arts and artists in addressing a non-arts societal issue, from health and wellness, to youth education, to homelessness, just to cite a few. Twenty-one projects were selected for funding, representing great diversity in artistic discipline, cross-sector partnerships and social issues, geography, and audience engaged.
Colorado Humanities received support for writing workshops for local veterans, led by literary artists who are also veterans that result in readings and published writings. The grant to History Colorado assists residents of Eastwood Heights, Pueblo and Trinidad in reclaiming site-based memory and history through community narratives, history collection storytelling and arts. Walk Denver received support to bring together the community along Denver’s Colfax corridor to work with artists in creating public art installations that raise awareness of traffic safety.
All Arts in Society grantees participate in a learning community program that allows for the development of new skills and sharing of best practices. This was the first year of a two-year $1 million pilot initiative. If you want to learn more about the many exciting projects we have supported, check out the Arts in Society blog.
Bonfils-Stanton Foundation was pleased to once again partner with The Denver Foundation Arts Affinity Group for Colorado Art Tank 2017. Six of Metro Denver’s most innovative artists and organizations presented their best ideas for creative projects and programs to a live, voting audience in February 2017. Art Street@YEA claimed a first-place honor and received a $30,000 grant; RedLine Contemporary Art Center was second place and received $20,000; in a tie for third place, Colorado Black Arts Movement and Warm Cookies of the Revolution each received $10,000. The remaining finalists each received $1,000 to encourage development of their projects.
Interested in Colorado Art Tank 2018? The live, public event is set for February 21 at Gates Hall in Robert and Judi Newman Center for the Performing Arts on the University of Denver campus at 6 p.m. It’s free, but you must register here.
Another notable event took place in May 2017. Bonfils-Stanton Foundation and Denver Arts & Venues teamed up with The Wallace Foundation to present new research and discussion on trends in building audiences. The Road to Results Denver forum featured Bob Harlow, author of The Road to Results: Effective Practices for Building Arts Audiences, as well as panel and open table conversation focusing on audience development as a long-term commitment and the need for organizations to continually build and nurture relationships.
If you missed Road to Results Denver, the Foundation has three videos available on YouTube so you can watch the forum in its entirety. We hope these videos will help you forge ahead with your audience development efforts for 2018. Watch the videos below:
We co-commissioned, along with Denver Arts & Venues and Boulder’s Office of Arts & Culture, a feasibility study on the creation of a cultural/creative alliance for the Front Range region. Many leaders in our community participated in the process. With the report now complete, we are weighing possible next steps.
The Diversity Equity and Inclusion Task Force, which grew out of a report the Foundation commissioned from Donna Walker-Kuhne a couple of years ago, continued to meet and share ideas and strategies, as well as discuss possible collective initiatives for the community.
Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Board Changes:
The Foundation has been very fortunate to be guided by an exceptional group of community members. During 2017, Chairman of the Board, Lanny Martin and Mark Falcone stepped down from the board after many years of thoughtful service. Harold R. Logan, Jr., a trustee since 2004, was named Chairman of the Board in June and we welcomed Elaine D. Torres, Community Affairs Director from CBS4-KCNC to the board in July.
A few years ago, to bring the perspective of individuals actively working in the arts and culture sector to the Board, the Foundation added two (three-year term) Community Trustee positions. Elaine Mariner, Cultural Director from the Town of Parker was named the newest Community Trustee and began her term in April.
Without a doubt, 2017 was filled with optimism, success stories and monumental milestones within Bonfils-Stanton Foundation. We already have many action items ready to go in 2018, and we can’t wait to share the news with you as they happen. So, here’s to a great 2017, but an even better year ahead.