And sustaining it by supporting diverse voices and catalyzing collaborations that make our community strong.

Since February, when we announced our partnership with the Barr Foundation and its Creative Commonwealth initiative, we’ve been nothing short of inspired by the response we received from the Worcester community. It’s a collaboration that is paving the way for the development of a long-term vision for arts and creativity in Worcester. It is also helping to engage a new generation of donors with artists and organizations who are contributing to the vibrancy and strength of our community. The vehicle for this initiative is two tremendous granting opportunities: Creative Spark and Creative Community Engagement.

Our Creative Spark Program is intended to “spark” more connections with and expressions by diverse community voices, as well as support new efforts in amplifying these voices and their presence within the creative sector. Supporting both organizations and individuals, this program is a unique opportunity for arts and creativity in Worcester. This year, over $69,000 was awarded to 11 organizations and individuals, including Worcester Earn-a-Bike for an outdoor mural project, and musician Eli Mateo for his program KidSTOMP, a summer-long Saturday morning music program in University Park.

Our Creative Community Engagement Program is intended to help selected arts organizations deepen engagement, strengthen capacity, and provide leadership within the creative sector. The program directs both financial and knowledge resources to Worcester’s non-profit cultural organizations. These resources are aimed to empower non-profits to develop innovative ways to increase engagement with diverse communities that represent Worcester’s changing demographics. $300,000 was awarded to 5 non-profits in this pilot year: ArtsWorcester, Crocodile River Music, Main IDEA, Music Worcester, and Worcester Chamber Music Society.

Additionally, at the request of the City Manager, and with Barr Foundation’s full support, we have partnered with the City of Worcester and the Worcester Cultural Coalition to help develop a Cultural Plan for the City. The plan development process is just getting underway, so community members can expect to hear more about it in the coming months.

It is a very exciting time in Worcester – a time where being creative is essential to the positive progression of our city. We can’t wait to see what’s in store!