The Art of Giving: Sustaining the Arts in Monroe County

The arts strengthen our community socially, educationally, and economically—benefits that have persisted even during the pandemic. We are delighted to share a few ways your support has enabled the Community Foundation in helping to enhance the arts in our community.

By Mary Anne Sterling, Special Contributor

From theater to sculpture and from painting to music, the creative arts inspire us—fostering creativity, empathy, and beauty. The arts strengthen our community socially, educationally, and economically—benefits that have persisted even during the pandemic. We are delighted to share a few ways your support has enabled the Community Foundation in helping to enhance the arts in our community.

Constellation Stage + Screen

In April 2022, the newly formed Constellation Stage + Screen organization launched a grand vision for the future of the performing arts in Bloomington. Its three founding organizations, Bloomington Playwrights Project, Cardinal Stage, and Pigasus Institute, began collaborating in 2019. The Community Foundation provided a grant to enable the organizations to work with a consultant and explore the possibility of creating an innovative blend of theater and film production, arts education, and new work.

As a result of the grant and the exploration process, Constellation was formed with a mission to produce world-class theater and film that impacts the national performing arts industry through new work development.

“Our productions, community events, and education programs serve as a leading contributor to Bloomington, Indiana’s cultural and economic vibrancy,” said Gabe Gloden, the new organization’s managing director. “We envision a future where the performing arts is as indispensable to our community as any other public service, and philanthropic giving is the key to the success of this vision.”

To learn more, visit

Bloomington Community Band

Established in 1978, the Bloomington Community Band (BCB) is an all-volunteer concert band. “We are comprised of 50 to 60 musicians at any one time, with ages ranging from 18 to 85,” explains Andrea Smith, Chair, Board of Directors. Any adult who plays an instrument may join without auditioning, and BCB performs 15 to 20 times per year in and around Monroe County at civic events, public gatherings, retirement homes, and state parks.

“We established an endowment fund to keep our organization going with match funding offered through the Community Foundation,” she said. The Bloomington Community Band Fund now ensures that the BCB will be able to sustain its mission of bringing the joy music to our community for years to come. To join the band or learn about its 2022 performance schedule, visit

Indiana Limestone Symposium

The stone belt that runs through Monroe County has carved a deep legacy in the region. “Celebrating that legacy and keeping it alive is our top priority,” says Frank Young, board president, who, with co-founder Amy Brier, created the Indiana Limestone Symposium in 1996.

“Our mission is to teach and share the art and tradition of limestone carving with people of all ages and skill levels,” he said. Thanks to a grant from the Community Foundation, ILS expanded beyond its historic three-week annual program. “While most of our events were cancelled because of the pandemic,” Frank explained, “we managed to develop a carving space at Karst Farm Park to host demonstrations year-round.”

Registration is open for the 2022 Symposium that will take place on the grounds of Bybee Stone Company in Ellettsville, Indiana—a few miles northwest of Bloomington— June 5-25. “Your support will help us build capacity to develop a volunteer program, attract and employ teachers, and keep the art of limestone carving alive in this wonderful region,” Young added. To register for a class or learn more, visit

USA International Harp Competition

Bloomington is known in Indiana for its musical arts, but it is known worldwide as the host of the triennial USA International Harp Competition (USAIHC), which is open to harpists of all nationalities between the ages of 18 and 32. Held at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, the event is paired with a globally recognized triennial Composition Contest producing new works for the harp.

The USAIHC nonprofit organization is based in Bloomington and exists to inspire, promote, and sustain artistic excellence while fostering a broader appreciation of the harp and its repertoire. Founded in 1989 by celebrated harpist and Distinguished Professor Emerita of Harp at Indiana University, Susann McDonald, it is the world’s foremost solo harp competition. USAIHC’s vision is to be a global platform for the harp that will inspire artistic excellence, encourage personal growth, launch careers and create community between musicians and their audiences.

This year, 48 contestants from 21 countries have been invited to participate in the 12th competition from June 29 – July 9, 2022. USAIHC also hosts a biannual Concert Series of distinguished harpists and introduces hundreds of students to the harp through its educational program, Harp Start. Joyce Claflin, president and CEO, says the organization “is committed to the diversity of performance, new music, and education.

USAIHC chose to establish two permanent endowment funds at the Community Foundation, the Susann McDonald Fund for USAIHC and the Joyce Claflin Fund for USAIHC, to sustain its mission and support the competition. For more information, visit

Jewish Theatre of Bloomington

A pillar of the Bloomington community, the Jewish Theatre of Bloomington is the only theater company of its kind in Indiana. “We produce works that are accessible to a diverse audience that arise from or reflect on the Jewish experience and on universal issues of the human condition,” said Deb Allmayer, Board Member and Treasurer.

“Arts organizations like ours face multiple and daily challenges,” she confided. “Locating rehearsal and performance space and raising money to fund compelling productions requires both creativity and collaboration.” “Our co-founder and artistic director, Audrey Heller, is nearing retirement; for 16 years, she has never been paid. We have to ensure we have the means to pay her successor and support the challenges this organization already faces.”

“We are so grateful for the patient and well-informed guidance we received from the Community Foundation,” added Allmayer. Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, donations made through 2024 to the Audrey Heller Jewish Theatre of Bloomington Fund at the CFBMC will be matched up to $100K. Learn more at:

Leck and Savastuk Bravo Fund

Susan Savastuk and Glorianne Leck are passionate about the arts. Susan discovered a love for painting when she retired, and they have enjoyed everything from local theatre, music performances, and the visual arts.

As they became more involved in the local arts community, however, they noticed that venues for the arts to be performed and displayed were often a challenge to secure in Monroe County. Susan and Glorianne stepped up to create a permanent field of interest endowment fund at the Community Foundation that could provide sustainable grant funding to support the arts and art venues. Aptly named the Bravo Fund, it will help provide grant funding dedicated to this vital component of a thriving arts community.

These are just a few examples of how your generosity is creating a stronger, thriving arts ecosystem in Monroe County. To see all of our arts-related funds, check our fund list by focus area and if you have questions, reach out and contact us.