Berrien County arts nonprofits fundraise as team

BERRIEN COUNTY—Ten nonprofits arts organizations local to the county have joined together to help raise funds.

Through the Berrien County Foundation’s Arts Challenge, the 10 participating arts organizations have been given the challenge to collectively raise $75,000. When the amount is raised, an anonymous donor will match the amount for the challenge.

“Early in the pandemic shut down, the Berrien Community Foundation reached out to a lot of the organizations they work with to check in and see what we needed,” said Lena Miles-LoRusso, executive director of Niles art nonprofit, Performing Arts Workshops. “We talked about wanting to work together in any way we might be able to, to get through this whole thing. Everyone is struggling and arts organizations are sometimes the last to recover.”

Each organization included in the 10 working together in the BCF Arts Challenge has benefitted from grants from the BCF prior to COVID-19.

The 10 groups have decided to stick together in the challenge, raising money across the board to be split between the each of them evenly.

“We say we chose unity over competition,” said August Garritano, executive director of PAW. “It is really a joint, group effort. We are pushing that same consistent message on our social media, our e-blasts.”

The pair from PAW has been working on the marketing committee for the BCF Arts Challenge. Each organization involved has a role in the launch and in the challenge’s roll out.

“Something really cool about this is we’ve started to build an alliance is on each organization’s Facebook. We are all introducing our followers to the other organizations,” Garritano said.

On specific days during the challenge, each organization will feature another nonprofit arts organization on their social media to introduce it to its own established following.

“It’s a really cool way to build each other up and introduce each other to our own followers,” Garritano said.

Miles-LoRusso said PAW is proud to represent south county in the Berrien County Foundation’s challenge.

The other nine organizations involved are The Acorn; ARS Gallery, Arts and Culture Center; The Citadel Dance and Music Center, Children’s Music Workshop, The GhostLight Theatre, Krasl Art Center, Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra, Twin City Players and Water Street Glassworks.

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