A Philanthropic Partnership for Arts, Creativity, & Inclusion

Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation has been working with Barr Foundation, a Boston-based philanthropic organization, since 2017 to increase community engagement through a key regional asset—the arts and creative sector.

Barr Foundation's mission is to “invest in human, natural, and creative potential, serving as thoughtful stewards and catalysts.” Under its Arts and Creativity programs, the Barr Foundation launched the Creative Commonwealth Initiative to enhance local arts ecosystems and increase access and participation across Massachusetts' creative sector. Through this Initiative, Barr sought and sustained a partnership with BTCF and seven other community foundations throughout the state. Barr invests in community foundations as "cornerstone institutions in their regions," understanding the unique place they hold as community leaders with deep local knowledge, relationships, and credibility to achieve positive change.

As part of the Creative Commonwealth Initiative, each community foundation developed programs suited to the specific needs of its region. BTCF's initiative, Arts Build Community, fosters community engagement and inclusion through the many arts and cultural institutions in Berkshire County. With Barr's generosity and programmatic assistance, alongside a dedicated local donor community, we have supported 52 nonprofits in Berkshire County, reached over 14,000 full-time residents, and granted $1.4 million to test and expand innovative approaches to community engagement through the arts. The aim is to cultivate trust, cooperation, and unity throughout our communities by overcoming barriers to participation for all local residents.

Read more about our ABC initiative and grantees.

In April, the Barr Foundation spotlighted one of our grantees, The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, which has utilized funding from Arts Build Community, along with other sources, to establish a program aimed at welcoming and integrating our Spanish-speaking community into this historic theater and cultural hub in Great Barrington. The Mahaiwe's Spanish-Language Community Advisory Network (SCAN), comprises cultural ambassadors who advise on inclusive programming and diminish barriers to access for members of the Latinx communities in the region. The Mahaiwe exemplifies how arts and cultural institutions can serve as agents of change and inclusion within their communities.

Spanish-speaking audience attends concert at The Mahaiwe
Photo courtesy of The Mahaiwe.

Read "Viva The Mahaiwe!" to discover how the performing arts center has become an inspiring story of organizational transformation.