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2010 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Arts Midwest

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Arts Education, Cultural & Ethnic Awareness, Fund Raising & Fund Distribution

Mission: Arts Midwest promotes creativity, nurtures cultural leadership, and engages people in meaningful arts experiences, bringing vitality to Midwest communities and enriching people’s lives.

Results: Over the past 26 years, Arts Midwest has been committed to serving the nation’s thriving arts communities. Through our performing, visual, literary, and theater arts programs, we have supported arts initiatives in urban and rural communities throughout the U.S. During the second year of the 2007–2009 Arts Midwest World Fest cycle, ensembles from Quebec, Israel, Mexico, and the Inner Mongolia Region of China reached 40,965 individuals, including 31,280 students in Midwestern communities. Additionally, in 2008–2009, Arts Midwest granted $540,318 to presenting organizations, and artists earned more than $3.5 million touring throughout the region through the Performing Arts Fund. These funds helped dance, music, and theater ensembles engage over 296,000 individuals, including over 138,000 youths through a variety of enriching public performances and educational activities. Arts Midwest also supported the arts community at the 2009 Midwest Arts Conference, with more than 900 attendees representing artists, presenting organizations, and service organizations. Attendees used this opportunity to gain knowledge about the performing arts industry, network with colleagues, and experience a variety of dynamic performances.

Target demographics: Our cultural programs reach more than one million people annually, serving communities across our nine member states, which include Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Many of our programs extend beyond these borders to communities across the 50 states, and international to places like China, Egypt, and Chile- enhancing the quality of life in hundreds of cities, towns, and rural areas across the the world.

Programs: Arts Midwest World Fest, is a global education and outreach performing arts initiative.

The Midwest Arts Conference is an annual booking and educational conference for the performing arts.

The Performing Arts Fund is a funding program that supports performing arts touring and educational workshops.

ArtsLab is a capacity-building program for Minnesota nonprofit arts organizations in partnership with a consortia of Twin Cities foundations.

The arts learning Xchange is an audience development initiative for Twin Cities arts organizations.

Arts Midwest also manages an array of initiatives with the National Endowment for the Arts:

The Big Read is a literary reading program that supports innovative reading initiatives, lectures, and events in communities across the country.

Shakespeare in American Communities brings the inimitable works of William Shakespeare to communities across the nation.

NEA Jazz Masters Live is a series of concerts and conversations featuring acclaimed jazz musicians.

Community Stories

6 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


Board Member

Rating: 5

Arts Midwest is the leading regional arts organization in the nation funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, private foundations and individuals. The agency's programs not only have a positive impact on the member nine state region but expand throughout the entire nation with projects like The Big Read and Shakespeare in American Communities. I am delighted to serve on the board of this outstanding organization with an impressive and hard working staff. It's a great nonprofit headquarter in Minneapolis.

Previous Stories

Board Member

Rating: 5

Arts Midwest is the nation's finest regional arts organization funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, nine member state arts agencies and private funds. As the former director of the SD Arts Council, the most unique aspect of Arts Midwest programming is the wealth of expeceptional talent it helps to tour to rural areas of the Midwest. It's World Fest program tours outstanding performers from foreign cultures in multi-day residency situations.In many cases, audiences experience unique, global performing arts that they otherwise would never have the opportunity to see. Supporting Arts Midwest is highly encouraged.


Board Member

Rating: 5

Arts Midwest provides many services to audiences, arts organizations and artists, through programs such as Arts Midwest World Fest, the Performing Arts Fund, the Midwest Arts Conference, The Big Read, the Arts Learning Exchange and many others. Services vary among programs and may include providing educational support to teachers and students; supporting arts services organizational staff through professional development; providing opportunities for regional arts and artists to step beyond where they are today. Most important is the collaborative leadership role taken by each member of the extraordinary staff at Arts Midwest in approaching their constituents, their work and new challenges. As Executive Director, David Fraher brings vision, creativity and compassion to his work and always thinks beyond...even when the next step is to confront the impact of today's economics on state arts agencies. "Beyond" keeps the focus on the new opportunities for the arts, artists and audiences. I have experienced Arts Midwest as an employee, a retiree, a volunteer and now, as a member of the board.


Board Member

Rating: 5

I was asked to join this board a few years ago. I am very inspired by this organization and what they have done for the Arts in a nine state region. I have been very impressed by the professionalism of each and every staff member. They are small in numbers but mighty in delivering great services and programs to many artists and art organizations.


Board Member

Rating: 5

As the Executive Director of the North Dakota Council on the Arts I see first hand what an impact Arts Midwest makes across the region. Specifically, Arts Midwest World Fest allows rural communities to participate in rich global arts experiences, experiences that would normally be far too costly for rural North Dakota to afford. Arts Midwest is well recognized regionally, nationally and internationally for its work with global projects, specifically music and literature. The NEA has repeatedly relied on Arts Midwest to manage national programs such as Shakespeare in America and The Big Read. The leadership of David Fraher and Susan Chandler is without equal. Their partnership is outstanding and has resulted in an organization and staff that the entire region is proud of.


Board Member

Rating: 5

Arts Midwest is one of the best organizations I have ever experienced. Under the outstanding leadership of David Fraher, Executive Director, and his excellent staff, Arts Midwest manages many important national and regional initiatives. I have worked directly with David and the staff as a board member and am impressed with the ability of the organization to meet the challenges of numerous arts initiatives and manage them effectively. They have expanded ArtsMidwestWorldFest, which I initiated before turning it over to Arts Midwest. It has become a model for cultural exchange that enables underserved Midwestern communities to interact with young, inspiring, international artists in student workshops and performances; community outreach activities; and public performances. Shakespeare in America and the Big Read, two superb national initiates of the NEA, are managed by Arts Midwest. Other arts organizations would benefit from looking at Arts Midwest as a role model.