BCF Arts Challenge Has an Act 2

It was a tough year for the arts in our community. Shuttered venues left arts organizations unable to perform or gather to support their work. The first BCF Arts Challenge to the community raised over $200,000 during the height of the pandemic to help these organizations survive. Now, partnering with the Berrien Community Foundation, a small group of donors have issued a similar challenge to help these organizations with the funding they need to re-open and continue to thrive.  

This amazing group of donors has pledged a total of $60,000 if the community matches that amount.  

“We are so fortunate to live in a community that cares so deeply about the Arts,” says Sue Kellogg of Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra. “Our organizations have survived, but we have all lost a year of revenue and many have dipped into any reserves that we had. These funds will help put us in a better position for the future.”  

“There was also just a loss in momentum,” said Performing Arts Workshop Director Lena Miles-LoRusso. “We are still getting back on our feet and recovering from the losses of 2020. This year has been a challenging year for rebuilding, and the arts challenge will help us push through to a full recovery.” 

The funds will go to benefit nine organizations that serve communities all over Berrien County, providing experiences in various arts disciplines to all ages. From glass blowing to early childhood music, from highly attended concerts to engaging workshops and classes, from cutting edge theatre to breathtaking galleries, these organizations are the beating heart of cultural engagement in Berrien County. 

“The partnerships formed by the first BCF Arts Challenge have remained strong,” said Berrien Community Foundation President Lisa Cripps-Downey. “Our local arts organizations are working together in ways they never have. Now an amazing partnership of donors is willing to help keep these organization on solid footing.”   

Every dollar contributed up to $60,000 will be matched!   

This collaborative fundraising challenge has the potential of providing $120,000 or more in much needed operating support for our organizations. Participating organizations continue to value partnership over competition during this time of resurgence and growth. Getting through this challenging year was one incredible feat. Triumphantly prospering into the future, continuing to enrich and inspire our communities despite any setbacks, is another. 

Board members of these organizations are all chipping in to help reach the goal - 100% of the organizations’ leaders and boards members have contributed to this challenge. As a result, $32,625 of the $60,000 has already been raised!  Now the organizations are asking for the rest of the community raise the remaining $27,375 by August 31 and secure the full match.  

"Thanks to the generous donations from so many members of the community, we made it through 2020 and are finally doing live theatre again!” says Adrienne Glisson of Children’s Music Workshop. “The road ahead is still uncertain, and we can continue to need everyone's support." 

Donations will benefit these organizations: 

  • The Acorn 
  • The Citadel Dance and Music Center 
  • Children's Music Workshop 
  • The GhostLight Theatre 
  • Krasl Art Center 
  • Performing Arts Workshops - PAW 
  • Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra 
  • Twin City Players 
  • Water Street Glassworks 

“This Arts Challenge has meant SO much to The GhostLight Theatre,” says Marty Hesse. “The good work that all the organizations are doing is important and appreciated, and the strong support from the community held us up through shutdown and inspired us to re-open and continue to provide excellent theater to the audiences of Southwest Michigan.” 


Contributors may send checks to Berrien Community Foundation at 2900 S. State Street, Ste. 2E, St. Joseph, MI 49085 or donate on their website www.berriencommunity.org/artschallenge.