Administered annually since 1991, the Michael Newton Award is given to an individual, staff member or volunteer in recognition of his or her innovation in developing private sector partnerships for the arts and/or long-term achievement in effective, and creative fundraising techniques. This year, the award goes to Barbara Sexton Smith, president and CEO of the Fund for the Arts, the oldest united arts fund in the country, which raises money for arts institutions and programs throughout the greater Louisville area. She will be presented with the award Saturday, June 15 at the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in Pittsburgh.
The award’s namesake, Michael Newton, came to the United States from England in the late 1960s and soon after began serving as director of the Arts and Sciences Council of Greater St. Louis. He also served as president of the Los Angeles Music Center and the American Council for the Arts. This award honors his distinguished career in the united arts fund field, advancement of consolidated fundraising strategies on the behalf of multiple arts institutions in the community, and exemplary management and leadership skills.
"It is such an honor to be receiving this award," comments Sexton Smith. "I'll bring it home and share it with our entire community because they are the ones who deserve this. We are lucky to live in a place where the arts are paid for and provided for everyone. I believe art is the common thread that connects all humanity and I get up every day looking for ways to create community connections through the arts. We believe a great American city is safe, healthy, educated and vibrant. The Arts are key to making this happen. Together through the Arts we create a great American city!"
In Sexton Smith’s tenure at the Fund for the Arts, the average gift through the workplace campaign grew from $87 in 2001 to more than $167 in 2011. The percentage of total dollars raised from employee campaigns increased by 25%.
Sexton Smith is also responsible for the creation of the Fund's NeXt! leadership development program, the goal of which is to prepare the next generation for volunteer leadership roles in the area of arts and cultural interests, with a strategic focus on strong corporate citizenship. Throughout the program’s two year commitment, NeXt! members attend monthly educational sessions about fundraising and professional development and are paired for fieldwork with one of the Fund’s cultural partners. Not only is NeXt! an exceptional fundraising technique (all 44 NeXt! host organizations are also donors to the Fund), it is an innovative example of a partnership with the private sector. Regional law firm Stoll Keenon Ogden PLLC has sponsored the program for the past three years, absorbing the cost for program participants.
Americans for the Arts is pleased to honor Barbara Sexton Smith as the 2013 Michael Newton awardee for her exemplary leadership skills and extraordinary long-term achievement in effective and creative fundraising in the Louisville community.