Robert E. Gard Foundation Calls for Stories

Gard Foundation logoThe Robert E. Gard Foundation is dedicated to fostering healthy communities through arts-based development, it is currently seeking stories from communities in which the arts have improved the lives of citizens in remarkable ways. These stories can either be full descriptions (400-900 words) with photos, video, and web links or mini stories (ca. 200 words) with a photo and optional video or web links. Descriptions of submission criteria are given below. This will be an on-going project. There is no deadline.

All stories will be nominees for case studies to be included in the Foundation’s Fifty Year Anniversary (2016) update of Robert Gard’s Arts in the Small Community ( (The update will include both rural and urban communities.)

Ideal candidates are community stories in which the arts serve as a centerpiece to enhance vitality, radically improve education, and/or significantly strengthen social bonds. In considering stories to submit, the following values of the Gard Foundation and of Robert Gard himself can serve as a guide. The Foundation will consider these in making its selections:


  • The arts spring from the commonplace and celebrate our essential humanity.
  • Everyone should have the opportunity to participate in arts and cultural experiences.
  • Each of us has the capacity to “alter the face and the heart of America.”
  • The arts have the power to ignite change.
  • The arts are an essential part of building healthy communities and meaningful lives.
  • The arts play a vital role in placemaking.

Preference is given to programs/projects that reflect adherence to principles of good practice for community engagement:

  • The arts experiences are tied to community feedback and growing relationships (i.e., the arts serve as the centerpiece of a broader, ongoing effort)
  • The programs/projects address community issues (including the need for fun)
  • The programs/projects demonstrate collaboration rooted in a mutuality of respect and benefit
  • The programs/projects involve collaboration between an arts organization and an organization or group that does not have an arts mission
  • The programs/projects involve participation by those who are not “typical” arts-goers, including those who have limited opportunity for participation in or access to the arts
  • The work comes out of relationship-building (the relationship was developed first)

REMINDER:The lessons of Robert Gard’s work apply equally to rural and to urban communities. The Foundation actively encourages submission of stories from all communities and regions.


Call for Stories

Nominations should include

  • A 400-900 word description of the project(s), including location and origins,
  • A 100 word summary
  • A description of results and community impact
  • A photo (landscape orientation is preferred) and/or video highlighting the work
  • Optional: audio if no video is available
  • Links to further information
  • Permission for the Gard Foundation to use (and authorize use of) the material submitted (acknowledging that the individual submitting the material has rights to grant such permission)

Please submit your entries, with attachments, to


Call for Mini Stories

The Robert E. Gard Foundation is collecting stories to help celebrate the upcoming 50th anniversary of “The Arts in the Small Community.”  This book, which was revolutionary in its day, put forth key ideas: a) the vital role of arts in a democracy  b) the linking of arts AND health, business, religion, youth issues, senior issues, cultural inclusiveness, and more and c) the creation of local arts agencies that meet broad local needs (such as economic development or environmental protection) as well as arts needs (such as exposure and audience-building).  The book drew on the stories of 5 small towns as they developed local arts agencies.

In this spirit, the Gard Foundation is collecting mini-stories that reflect one or more of these three themes.  We anticipate creating some new version of “The Arts in the Small Community” (by which we mean urban neighborhoods, suburban places, small and rural towns) in 2016. We will post stories on the Gard Foundation website now, both to document what’s happening today and to inspire the further growth of the field.  Then, in the spirit of the original book, we expect to identify 5 of these stories to use as the organizing principle for the new “Arts in the Small Community.”

The mini stories will be short – 200 words – with one photo plus (optional) a link to a YouTube video.  Here is a sample of what we are seeking and how it will be presented. (NOTE: These stories will not be listed under Art of the Rural.)

Please send a story to


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