This month, we are highlighting the Arts and Culture Fund of the Otsego Community Foundation (OCF). The Arts and Culture Fund is a Field of Interest Fund, which allows donors to support various nonprofits focused on a particular area of interest. Field of Interest Funds help donors connect to what matters to them: education, conservation, supporting local youth, or inspiring creativity and an appreciation of the arts.  

When most people think of nonprofit work, providing human services comes to mind. But fostering wellness and strengthening a community is broader than that. We strive for our grants to reflect the diversity of our community. Providing opportunities for artistic expression is a part of that endeavor. Creativity and artistic expression make our community stronger.  

“Access to arts and culture is as important as ever in our society. It connects, creates, is therapy, prevention, and beautification, and is for all ages, abilities, and backgrounds. Arts and Culture are critical components to thriving communities.”

-Dana Bensinger, OCF Executive Director.

Janice Lampert started the Arts and Culture Fund at the OCF in 2016. She wanted a way to honor her parents, who passed away in 2006 and 2008. They instilled a love of the arts in her and her siblings at an early age. She grew up in a household where finding a creative outlet was demonstrated and encouraged. Her father sang in the church choir and was involved in local theater. After raising six children, her mother took up oil painting, entering her creations in art shows and sharing them with others. Janice’s parents also taught her and her siblings that it is important to take care of the people around us; that we have a responsibility to help each other out.  

Janice studied graphic design in college, where she was trained to communicate visually. Her professional experience includes working in advertising, being the Art Director for Denver Business Magazine, and being the Creative Director of the Gaylord Area Convention and Tourism Bureau. Art, to Janice, is the universal language. It unites us, brings joy, nurtures wellness, and encourages collaboration. She says culture allows us to “appreciate what we have in common with others, as well as our differences.”  

Through her work with the OCF as a board member, Janice knew there had yet to be an Arts and Culture Fund at the OCF. Establishing this fund helped her honor her parents, and it filled a gap in the community. Anyone with a love for the arts and culture can donate to this fund, which not only grants money to local nonprofits but also “acknowledges that the arts are important” as well. Since 2016, the Arts and Culture Fund has awarded $12,429 in grants. Local nonprofit organizations who have received grants from this fund include Gaylord Area Council for the Arts, Gaylord Community Schools, Gaylord Community Orchestra, Gaylord Community Productions, Mt. Carmel Center, and Gaylord Historical Society.  

Art in the Alley is a current project funded partly by the Arts and Culture Fund. This local installation is accessible to everyone, beautifying forgotten spaces spanning from the Gaylord Gateway Trailhead to Claude Shannon Park and beyond. For Janice, this project is much more than murals painted on the side of a building. It sets the north entrance alley as a destination open to new possibilities. This enhancement in the heart of downtown Gaylord will offer a safe place to gather, shop and explore for locals and visitors alike, an example of how the Arts and Culture Fund strengthens our community. It affirms to artists that their “expressions will be heard” and that “it is important” for them to express themselves. Janice hopes it will foster creativity, inspire, and bring a sense of belonging to those who see it and those who create. Through art, anything is possible.  

“Janice’s generously planted a seed. Over time and with additional gifts and investments, the Arts and Culture Fund will become a true masterpiece generating resources to not only sustain local arts and culture initiatives but create all kinds of goodness in our community.”

-Dana Bensinger, OCF Executive Director

Please visit us here if you would like to contribute to the Arts and Culture.

Interested in starting a Field of Interest Fund with the OCF? Please visit our website.