is a nonprofit organization that inspires and promotes community participation
in the visual arts, through education, exhibitions and outreach.
Guilford Art Center evolved from the first Handcraft Expo, held on the Guilford
Green in 1957, in which local artisans displayed their work and demonstrated
their crafts. Ten years later, the Center was incorporated as the Guilford
Handcraft Center and, since that time, has become a vital part of the town of
Guilford and surrounding area of greater New Haven, helping the region forge an
identity as a cultured community where the arts are celebrated, bolstering the
economy through tourism, and enhancing its desirability as a compelling place
to live and visit.
The Center’s school is central to its
mission to provide community arts programming. Annually, the school serves over
2,000 students, from preschool-aged through senior citizens, in four semesters
of approximately 400 classes each year. Classes are offered in a wide
range of media and techniques, including ceramics, jewelry, metal smithing,
fiber, weaving, glass, basketry, beading, drawing, painting, and sculpture, and
are led by a faculty of more than 70 professional artists, as well as by
visiting artists. Instructors also work in the community, with schools, senior
citizen programs, and the local library, bringing projects off-site to these
clients. The Center’s summer youth program provides week-long classes for
pre-school to upper middle school-aged children, as well as volunteer
opportunities for high school-aged students. A scholarship program helps insure
that opportunities to study the arts are available to the greatest number
of target audience members of all means.
The Center’s Gallery annually presents
media-specific or thematic exhibitions, and community organizations, such as
the Shoreline Arts Alliance and the Guilford Art League, also use the gallery
space for their own juried or member exhibits. The gallery is open to seven
days a week and all exhibits are free of charge. Works by more than 250 American
artisans are sold in the Center’s shop and gallery during the annual Artistry
Holiday Sale of Fine American Craft. The event helps provide these artists
with a livelihood while bringing the finest in handcrafted art in all media to
our audience, while also providing an opportunity for patrons to support small
American businesses, eg., the participating artists.
Craft Expo, held on the Guilford Green each July
(2017 will be the 60th anniversary), is one of the Center’s most important
fundraisers, at the same time putting a spotlight on high
quality handcrafted work being created throughout the nation. Other
programs and activities held throughout the year celebrate creativity and
engage our diverse constituencies, including our annual, free Open Arts Day in
January; birthday parties for children; after-school programming in the
community; administration of the Shoreline ArtsTrail membership program; and
fundraising gatherings that often highlight works by community artists.
The Center's top accomplishments from the past year include:
The Center's most pressing needs include:
As executive director of Guilford Art
Center, I often say, “I
love what I do.” And I know our board members and small staff feel the same
way. It is a privilege to see our audience of all ages and abilities engage in
the Center’s programs. By offering opportunities for creative expression and
art appreciation, we are confident that our organization contributes to the
vitality and wellness of our community, supporting an open-minded, creative and
Research regarding the benefits of the arts continues to
grow, and the Center is proud to promote and provide the essential values of the
arts in our community. We know that they help develop critical thinking skills,
social tolerance, civic engagement, holistic problem solving, visualization of
complex ideas, and divergent thinking that are essential competencies in
today’s global world. We also know that they promote neurological, emotional
and physical wellness that further contribute to the health of our community.
As noted at the March 2, 2017 Connecticut Arts Day in Hartford, more than 50%
of Connecticut residents consider themselves to be artistic; and our aim is to “up”
that figure so that even more of our citizens reap the benefits of creative
We depend upon the support of our audiences--students,
donors, teachers, visitors, and hundreds of volunteers—to keep the Center
vital, by engaging in our many programs, suggesting new ones, introducing
friends, and bolstering our efforts with donations of money, time and
materials. We are here for longtime students who find camaraderie and
constructive critique as they practice and enjoy their craft, as well as for
first-time students—children and adults—who discover their love, talents, and
creativity. We are here for students of all abilities, including those with
intellectual disabilities, through new and popular Unified Art programming we
have launched in the past six months, to learn and work and create together. Through
our gallery, shop and Craft Expo, we present inspiration to our
audiences in the form of nationally-recognized works that demonstrate
the breadth and range of contemporary practice in the United States. And we
provide outreach programs, collaborating with other educational and nonprofit
organizations for the greater good of our community, including the Community
Dining Room, the Yale Medical ICU, local schools and others, as detailed in our
The Center has a new, board-approved strategic plan, guiding
our path for the next three years and designed to ensure our continuing vital
role in our community. These next years will be an exciting and important time
in our history, designed to strengthen our Center and to enable it to thrive,
to the benefit of our community.
2017 is the Guilford
50th anniversary. We
celebrate in full realization of our history, our challenges, and our
achievements. The Community Foundation
for Greater New Haven’s operating support is vital to our success moving
President of GAC Board
In 2017, the Guilford Art Center
is celebrating our 50th Anniversary of teaching, promoting, and
energizing the visual arts. Our constituents are community members of all ages,
who participate as students, teachers, and artists, as well as thousands who
engage as members, volunteers, and participants. We serve New Haven
County and a
I am pleased to be the
president of the Guilford Art Center (GAC) Board of Directors at a time of celebration
and renewal. Our board of directors is
committed, knowledgeable, and effective. Members have careers in business, law, fundraising, industrial design,
architecture, management, and art, all of direct value to GAC. With the help of a consultant, we have a
board-approved new strategic plan, guiding our path for the next three years.
As a nonprofit, we are
blessed with outstanding staff leadership: an Executive Director with past
experience at renowned museums and art centers, as well as with GAC. Our Operations Director/CFO has an MBA and a
thorough history of the operations of GAC and its budget. Our very small paid staff accomplishes
miracles every day.
To celebrate our 50th
Anniversary, our goal is to raise $250,000 to renew our school building and
update our equipment. Addressing these
needs is an exciting prospect and will lead to significant improvements in our
ability to serve our community. Like
most nonprofit educational institutions, GAC needs philanthropic support to
thrive. With lean budgets and few paid
staff, the infusion of gifts from donors makes all the difference.
Guilford Art Center serves our many constituents as a premier community arts center. Via the School, we offer 500 educational
programs and creative opportunities to a broad range of 2000 children and
adults of all ages all year. Financial assistance is available to help ensure
that the Center’s programs are accessible for community members of all
means. Our Gallery and Shop show the
work of regional artists and provide audiences year-round access to juried
American crafts, 7 days a week. Our EXPO
on the Guilford Green is a national show that draws close to 8,000 people
annually to see and buy the best of American crafts. More than 100 volunteers, working with our
dedicated staff, help make all these programs possible.
The breadth and depth of
GAC’s programs and community events is beautifully illustrated on our website: www.guilfordartcenter.org. Please
explore our site for a fuller understanding of all we offer.
Recent studies have verified
what arts organizations already knew: art education is not just a luxury. Rather, exposure to art and art education helps develop critical
thinking skills, social tolerance, and creative thinking. Holistic problem solving, visualization of
complex ideas, and divergent thinking are essential competencies developed in
art education programs. These skills are
exactly what employers are looking for in today’s global economy. Guilford
is proud to promote the essential values of art and art education in the wider
The Center’s outreach programs helps insure that our educational programming is reaching our widest potential target audience. In January 2017 the Center held its fifth annual Free Open Arts Day, in which community members are invited to visit the Center’s studios and classrooms, and to meet instructor-artists demonstrating their crafts and offering hands-on art projects. Projects such as these are designed to offer a first access to arts programming for those not ready or able to commit to a class without trial exposure and guidance. The Center is also continuing a program with the Guilford Before and After School Care program to offer on-site art instruction in three Guilford elementary schools, to students who would not otherwise have the opportunity to enroll in after school programs. We also participate in a project with the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Yale New Haven Hospital, in which GAC potters create small ceramic hearts for memory boxes given to families of terminally ill patients. We received funding for 2017--our 50th anniversary year--to provide free workshops to community members and to participate with free projects in community events on the shoreline--for example, the Branford Festival, the Guilford Civic Women Fall Festival--to further familiarize community members with our programming. The Center also collaborated with the Branford Alps Farmers Market in summer 2016, providing weekly art projects for children, connecting health and wellness with creative expression. GAC instructors also work in other settings in the community, including at the Madison School for Young Children and Evergreen Woods retirement home. The Center also helps administer the Shoreline ArtsTrail membership program.
The Shop promotes and supports the work of American artists and artisans through presentation and sale of handmade works. More than 300 American artisans are represented in the Center’s Shop year-round, and in an expanded event during the annual Artistry Holiday Sale of Fine American Craft, November through early January. The Shop and Artistry help provide participating artists with a livelihood while bringing the fine quality examples of contemporary work to the Center’s audience, as both example and inspiration.
Craft Expo, held on the Guilford Green each July (2017 will be the 60th annual event), is a weekend-long community event that features fine quality handmade crafts by more than 180 American artisans, at the same time serving as one of the Center’s most important fundraisers. The event offers visitors the chance to connect with living artists, be inspired by their creativity, and support the work of the artists as small American businesses. At the same time, the continuing legacy of the event has helped Guilford and the greater New Haven and shoreline areas forge an identity as a cultured community where the arts are celebrated, bolstering the economy through tourism, and enhancing its desirability as a compelling place to live and visit.
Maureen Belden, Executive Director, has served at the Center as Program Administrator and Expo Coordinator since 2005, and as Program Director since 2009. She oversees all programmatic aspects of the Center, including the school, gallery, and community outreach programs. She holds an MA in art history from the Institute of Fine Arts, New YorkUniversity, and a BA from the University of Michigan. She has served as Director of the Historical Society of Newburgh Bay & the Highlands, Curator at Storm King Art Center, as well as in curatorial positions at the St. Louis Art Museum and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA, NYC). She lives in Guilford with her husband and two children. She is also a member of the board of the Guilford Fund for Education.
collaborates with the Guilford Before and After School Care program on a joint
project to provide art instruction on-site at their three elementary school
locations, for students who would not otherwise have the opportunity to enroll
in after school programs. We have also provided instructors to teach at the
Guilford Center for Children, the Madison School for Young Children, the
Country School, and in the Guilford Free Library’s “Teen Art Lab.” Also with
the Library, the Center jointly presented with the Library two film series,
“Artists in the Movies,” in Fall 2016 and Winter 2017, to be continued in the
Fall. GAC participates in a project with the Medical Intensive Care Unit
at Yale New Haven Hospital,
in which potters create small ceramic hearts for memory boxes given to families
of terminally ill patients. Annually we collaborate with the Community Dining Room on our "Soup for Good" event, which celebrates the GAC potters and jointly benefits both organizations. The Center also collaborated with the Branford Alps
Farmers Market in summer 2016, providing weekly art projects for children,
connecting health and wellness with creative expression. In the past the Center
has collaborated with the Guilford PTA on their annual art show; with
SARAH Kidsteps to provide youth instructor training for working with
differently-abled children; and in outreach programs with Evergreen Woods for
senior citizens. We continually seek opportunities to collaborate with local
organizations to harness relative strengths in order to offer high quality
programming for our target audience.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
Guilford Art Center had an operating profit for the fiscal year ended 8/31/16. All programs (school, gallery, Craft Expo, and special events) had a positive variance from budget except for our year-round shop of American-made craft, mainly due to lower-than-expected sales during the December 2015 holiday season. Our shop exists so that American, particularly local artists, can have their work seen and acquired by art lovers. A shop marketing plan is being implemented to help boost sales.
Guilford Art Center’s budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year projects a profit of less than $5K, which does not leave much of a cushion against a wide scope of possible income shortages and expense overages. However, should a profit be realized for the fiscal year, part or all of it would be spent on new or expanded programs, facility improvements, and/or increasing the Center’s cash reserve.
2017 marks the Center’s 50th anniversary. In celebration, GAC has received and is continuing to seek donations for a building project that will allow for expansion of the Center’s most popular studios, thereby enhancing the experiences of our students.
This profile, including the financial summaries prepared and submitted by the organization based on its own independent and/or internal audit processes and regulatory submissions, has been read by the Foundation. Financial information is inputted by Foundation staff directly from the organization’s IRS Form 990, audited financial statements or other financial documents approved by the nonprofit’s board. The Foundation has not audited the organization’s financial statements or tax filings, and makes no representations or warranties thereon. The Community Foundation is continuing to receive information submitted by the organization and may periodically update the organization’s profile to reflect the most current financial and other information available. The organization has completed the fields required by The Community Foundation and updated their profile in the last year. To see if the organization has received a competitive grant from The Community Foundation in the last five years, please go to the General Information Tab of the profile.
Greater New Haven is home to a thriving arts community that includes theatre, music, dance and the visual arts. It is invested in its museums, historic preservation and the celebration of its members’ ethnic and cultural diversity.
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