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Kresge and Surdna foundations support community lenders’ integration of arts and culture in local revitalization efforts

Arts & Culture

Seven Community Development Financial Institutions will receive grants for efforts that integrate arts, culture and creativity into community revitalization work.

The Kresge and Surdna foundations will provide a total of $1.35 million over two years to the seven community lenders.

The grants will allow the lenders to support the activities of artists and art enterprises that contribute to health and well-being of neighborhoods as part of broader redevelopment efforts.  

For example, the CDFIs will:

  • provide home and workplace loans to keep low- and moderate-income artists in the greater Nashville area
  • offer a loan program and technical assistance to help culinary artists locate businesses in Philadelphia commercial corridors that are being revitalized
  • help develop and finance projects such as affordable housing for artists, business, and arts and culture anchors in Baltimore neighborhoods

The joint initiative will help support and expand CDFIs’ involvement in creative placemaking.  The grants range from $100,000 to $200,000.

“Not only are artists and culture bearers makers of aesthetic objects and creators of experiences, they create jobs, attract investments, generate tax revenues and stimulate local economies,” says Phillip Henderson, president of the Surdna Foundation. “Their contributions to community development extend far beyond the economy by helping to make places healthier, more equitable and sustainable.”

Dubbed Catalyzing Culture and Community through CDFIs, or C4, the joint initiative is intended to help support and expand CDFIs’ involvement in creative placemaking.  More than 40 community lenders responded to a request for proposals.

Kresge believes that arts enhances human development, and can also help shape the social, physical, cultural and economic identity of a community, says Rip Rapson, the foundation’s president and CEO. “Arts and culture can spur economic development, strengthen social cohesion and revitalize disinvested communities.”

CDFIs are leaders in community redevelopment, but relatively few appear to have experience in lending for projects that include or are driven by artists, arts, culture and creative enterprises.

The foundation funding allows the lenders to experiment with projects they might not have considered otherwise.  “It provides risk capital,” adds Rapson. “We’re very pleased that these CDFIs are open to exploring the ways that investment in arts culture and creative enterprises and might meet their mission.”

The projects funded are:

  • Economic Community Development Organization, Toledo, Ohio– $200,000 for the UpTown Toledo Arts Entrepreneur Initiative to enhance neighborhood revitalization in UpTown, a commercial arts district in Toledo. The initiative will invest in the development of an incubation space for creative entrepreneurs; provide micro loans ranging from $5,000 to $35,000 to artists, coupled with industry-specific training and technical assistance.
  • The Housing Fund, Nashville, Tenn.– $200,000 for the Make a Mark Loan Program to create a loan product to allow low- and moderate-income working artists in the Music City to own their live/work or production spaces and keep them affordable, creating a more permanent stake in the greater Nashville and Davidson County area.
  • The Enterprise Center Capital Corporation, Philadelphia, Pa– $100,000 for the Philly Food Innovation Loan Fund to provide loans and technical assistance to local food entrepreneurs as they locate food businesses on revitalizing local commercial corridors.
  • Four Bands Community Fund, Eagle Butte, S.D.– $200,000 for Rediscovering Native Art on Cheyenne River, a project grounded in Lakota art and culture that focuses on increasing access to the business skills and information that artists need to succeed economically. The program aims to build the capacity of community-based organizations to serve artists and promote Native American art, both on and off the reservation.
  • New Mexico Community Development Loan Fund, Albuquerque, N.M.– $200,000 for enhanced delivery of affordable credit and technical assistance to artistic and creative entrepreneurs in the Santa Fe and Albuquerque communities.
  • Community Capital Works, dbaEntrepreneur Works Fund, Philadelphia, Pa. – $100,000 for Championing Revival, Empowering Artists, Transforming Economies, a project to support artist-entrepreneurs and creative businesses as they expand their roles in revitalizing the city’s economy with  a particular focus on developing an arts corridor along Lancaster Avenue in West Philadelphia.
  • The Reinvestment Fund, Philadelphia, Pa.  – $200,000 for Placemaking through Arts and Culture, a project to develop and finance a pipeline of projects in Baltimore neighborhoods, including Station North, that could include affordable housing for artists, business and real estate financing for arts and culture anchor projects, and other creative endeavors.