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Fund for the Arts Celebrates its 75th Anniversary Campaign Art is What We’ve Been Looking For: Louisville and the City of Artists

By: Andre Kimo Stone Guess | President and CEO of Fund for the Arts

Our world feels as if it is more divided than ever, as if there is nothing that can bring us together or get us to hear one another. We know that communities are at their best when people are united under a common banner, theme, or purpose. We are crying out for unity but struggling to find the right catalyst.

At Fund for the Arts, we know that art is that unifying catalyst.

We believe that art is a right, not a privilege, because art is a fundamental expression of the human condition. Art is the way that we make sense of the world around us. It’s how we celebrate, tell stories, mourn, and heal. It’s how we connect.

Louisville is recognized as a city whose arts community punches above its weight. We are one of the smallest cities in the country to have all the major arts institutions — orchestra, opera, ballet, fine arts museum, regional theatre, and children’s theatre. We are home to internationally famous conductors, have raised Oscar winners and record-setting rappers, produced Pulitzer Prize-winning new plays, and taught painters whose work hangs in some of the most prestigious museums in the world.

And according to Americans for the Arts’ Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 Study (AEP6) Louisville’s non-profit arts and culture sphere is still a powerful one, generating over $517 Million in direct economic activity and over 7,900 jobs in Louisville/Jefferson County in FY22. The study also found that non-profit arts and culture audiences spend an average of $45.09 per person, per event, and that nonlocal attendees spend nearly twice as much as locals, generating momentum and financial power in a world still adjusting to the lasting effects of a pandemic.

Since 1949, Fund for the Arts, one of the first two United Arts Funds in the country, has raised over a quarter billion dollars to foster the arts ecosystem. We believe the arts are not only relevant, but vital to everyone in this community. In the past decade, we have grown our recipient pool for operating grants from 5 to 27, stretching across every discipline, budget size, and mission, as well as adding a whole new quarterly grant program designed entirely based on community listening sessions.

Alongside Louisville Metro Government and libraries across the region, we have facilitated the Cultural Pass program, distributing over 221,000 Passes and granting young people FREE access to more than 77 venues in the community. Plus, we continue to invest in students and teaching artists via 5x5 and TAG grants to help connect young people with the arts in their learning environments.

We should be proud of this history and gravitas! It’s no small thing having all this right here at home. But we are more than a City of Arts.

On September 9, 2023, in honor of our Celebration of the Arts event and the start of our 75th Anniversary Campaign, Mayor Craig Greenberg proclaimed Louisville a City of Artists, a place where anyone can make a life in art—no matter what they do for a living.

There is one huge difference between a City of Arts and a City of Artists—and that’s YOU.

Whether we realize it or not, everyone in our community creates and consumes art every single day, regardless of age, ability, race, gender, sexual orientation, resources, income, ZIP code, etc. — from car-singing, to kitchen-dancing, from make-it-at-home mixology to amateur herbology, from taking in a play to taking ballet classes, from weaving tangible threads on a loom to weaving the threads of your history into a narrative.

Art makes it easier to share in the humanity of others. It is the key to unity that we have all been looking for. At Fund for the Arts, we are dedicated to generating resources for, investing in, and supporting the incredible art, artists, and arts organizations that make up our City of Artists, and that includes you. Invest in your own art and be ready for the incredible connection you will find in this community.

I Am An Artist and a proud citizen of our City of Artists and so are you…


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