Foundation in Focus: Support for the arts critical during pandemic

Charlotte Kessler
Guest Columnist

Robert L. Lynch, the president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, once said, “The arts help transform American communities and the result can be a better child, a better town, a better nation and certainly a better world. Let’s champion our arts action heroes, emulate them and make our communities everything we want them to be.” 

Early on, the board of trustees for the New Albany Community Foundation established four areas of impact – arts and culture, lifelong learning, health and wellness and environmental sustainability.

Charlotte Kessler

This past year as the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic spread across the country, health and wellness understandably became the priority for all of us. This was true for the Foundation as well. 

Thankfully, many generous donors responded. And through their generosity, the Foundation was able to award grants to organizations helping the most vulnerable in our community. This included grants to the food pantry, to the schools for a safe return to the classrooms, to mental-health organizations and to groups producing protective equipment for healthcare staff and first responders. 

Now, as vaccines have become available, it appears the end to the pandemic may be in sight. 

One particular group that has been affected by the pandemic has been arts organizations and professional musicians, actors and dancers. This is especially true of performance groups, such as symphony orchestras, ballet and dance companies, theater groups or any organization that performs in a concert hall or on a stage. 

As a patron of and an advocate for libraries and the arts for much of my life, I appreciate how important these organizations are to our society, communities and local economies. 

Many of you undoubtedly have seen the new amphitheater under construction just west of the McCoy Center. Like the McCoy, it promises to be a marvelous venue where the community will gather for performances and community events. 

New Albany is blessed to have several performance groups, such as the symphony orchestra, community band, community choir, community and youth theater and others, as well as school performance groups. 

As we prepare to dedicate the new amphitheater this year, let us hope that life returns to a more normal state in which arts organizations may return to the stage and continue to enrich our lives. 

The Foundation, through its donors, is proud to have played a collaborative role in building these facilities and in supporting the organizations who perform in them. 

Charlotte Kessler is a member of the New Albany Community Foundation board of trustees.