Start the year with a story…

Happy New Year and a big THANK YOU for an amazing 2018!

I’d like to start this year with gratitude and a reflection…

 

20 years ago, Nebraska looked much different. We’ve had tremendous shifts in our economic and community landscapes from Scottsbluff to Omaha, Norfolk to McCook. And while MY perspective of things may have been from about 2 feet closer to the ground and sitting in an elementary school classroom in Lincoln, I can appreciate the amazing changes that have come about. In fact, these changes have shaped my own upbringing – indeed I am, in many ways and like many others, the product of these significant shifts – including the one brought on by the Nebraska Cultural Endowment.

In Memory of State Sen. LaVon Crosby of Lincoln, who, along with Sen. Don Pederson of North Platte, first championed this unique and powerful legislation.

In the years leading up to the formation of the Nebraska Cultural Endowment, public funding for the arts and humanities at the federal level was under significant threat. Because of this mounting uncertainty, a visionary group of policy-makers and passionate citizens sought a solution to sustain our state’s treasured cultural resources, to be shielded from shifts in the political or economic landscape. It was a solution other states have tried with varying degrees of success – to create a publicly-funded Cultural Trust. However, Nebraska being Nebraska, we wanted to do things just a bit differently… just a bit better.

Instead of an entirely publicly-funded trust, we would create a public-private Endowment, where private investments in the arts and humanities of tomorrow would be matched, dollar-for-dollar, by a public investment in the same vision, and vice versa. Early aspirations for this initiative were to hold $25 million in order to sustain the arts and humanities by directing the earnings from investments to the Nebraska Arts Council and Humanities Nebraska.

 

Fast-Forward –

I am thrilled to share that the Nebraska Cultural Endowment… the product of the tireless work of these visionary policy-makers and community members… is currently responsible for investments of $21 million. What’s more, starting in 2019, we have the legislative mechanism to grow to a combined $30 million by 2028. However, we can’t do it without the support of our community.

WeBop workshop at Omaha Performing Arts

The impact of this nationally-unique, public-private partnership is exceptional and perpetual. Without decreasing the principal of $21 million, the NCE grants over $1 million per year back into the cultural sector of Nebraska, and we currently account for about 20% of each of the state councils’ budgets. As we grow to $30 million, we expect that to increase to 30% or greater, further sustaining the rich and vibrant cultural resources of Nebraska.

Together, we will rise to this challenge – to ensure that future generations will have access to the same or better arts and humanities education, and that our grandchildren’s grandchildren will know a Nebraska that fosters creativity and free thought. With your support, Nebraska will remain informed, creative, and civically engaged. We all know Nebraska is a special place to live; and we have the opportunity today, to make sure that remains true tomorrow.

 

So, in this time of celebration and renewal, I would like to thank our community for making Nebraska’s cultural landscape what it is today by embracing and supporting this powerful initiative; and I invite you to join us as we continue to cultivate a legacy for the arts and humanities in Nebraska.

 

Happy New Year!

-Kyle

Kyle Cartwright
Executive Director
Nebraska Cultural Endowment

 

 

NCE Board Member Robert Nefsky Awarded Leonard Thiessen Award

Board Member Robert Nefsky, Recipient of the 2018 Leonard Thiessen Award

 

Earlier this month, our board member Robert Nefsky was awarded the Leonard Thiessen award at the 2018 Governor’s Arts Awards. I had the privilege of asking Mr. Nefsky a few questions about the award, and his involvement in the arts.

JL: Congratulations on winning the Leonard Thiessen award! How does it feel to be recognized with this honor?

RN:I am honored to be in the same company as the past recipients of the Leonard Thiessen award, and in the company of those of who work every day to bring the arts to Nebraskans.

JL: The Thiessen is awarded “to an individual who…typifies the highest degree of commitment to the arts in Nebraska.” From helping found the NCE and serving as the founding director of the Friends of Sheldon Film theater, to serving on the boards of numerous arts and culture non-profit organizations, it’s clear that you are a fierce advocate for arts and culture in Nebraska. What motivates this passion?

RN: My interest in the arts and culture comes from a lot of sources. The arts and culture, particularly the arts and the humanities, are important parts of our life. I like being part of a team that builds things that serve the common good. Having decided to live in my hometown of Lincoln as an adult, I want access to the same kinds of things: arts, culture, education and history, that I might have if I lived in a larger place. The way to get these things is to work with others to bring them here, support them and enhance them.

JL: As someone whose main profession is relatively distanced from art, what advice do you have to people who aren’t necessarily artists themselves, but want to support the arts?

RN: Actually, that’s not as true as one might think. My initial work for nonprofit organizations has involved pro bono legal work or using my legal skills to help structure something. Just as in business, the success of a charitable venture depends on a strong base, attention to the details and a commitment to internal and external integrity. In my experience, a great idea needs to be executed well to succeed. That said, get involved.  It’s interesting and engenders passion.

JL: Thank you, Mr. Nefsky!

If you’d like to hear more, be sure to check out his video here. Congratulations to all the recipients of the 2018 Governor’s Arts Awards!

NEBRASKA CULTURAL ENDOWMENT WELCOMES NEW BOARD MEMBER

Katie Weitz, PhD

The Nebraska Cultural Endowment welcomes Katie Weitz, PhD, to its Board of Directors. Katie is currently the executive director of the Weitz Family Foundation in Omaha. She brings to the board extensive non-profit leadership and fundraising experience, as well as a strong background in the arts and education. Continue Reading…

Nebraska Cultural Endowment Call To Action

A year end message from Marian Fey, Executive Director of the Nebraska Cultural Endowment

Through the generosity of donors like you and our unique partnership with the state, the Nebraska Cultural Endowment is poised reach $10,000,000 at both the public and private funds by the end of the year. The earnings from this permanently endowed $20,000,000 are critical in supporting the grants and programs of Humanities Nebraska and the Nebraska Arts Council. The two councils have already sustained a 4% cut in state funds, and will face another 8% cut in next year’s state appropriations. Continue Reading…

Omaha World Herald, 08/15/2016, Robert L. Nefsky: Crosby’s legacy: cultural endowment

Photo Credit to Jeffery Z. Carney / The Omaha World Herald

The writer, of Lincoln, is a founding director and a past president of the Nebraska Cultural Endowment.

Recent days marked the passing of LaVon Crosby, a retired Nebraska state senator from Lincoln and widow of former Gov. Robert Crosby.

LaVon Crosby exhibited the personal qualities we should expect of our elected officials. She worked passionately and successfully on issues that were important to her and her constituents. She comported herself with dignity. She could disagree with her colleagues while remaining respectful and without demonizing them or their positions.

Continue Reading…

Lincoln Journal Star, Letter, 8/9/2016 : Remembering Crosby

It was with sadness that we noted the passing of LaVon Crosby (“Crosby, beloved state senator, dies,” July 28). LaVon was a treasured legislator but she was much more than that. She will be remembered as an effective voice in the legislature but more so as a beloved lady and friend. She was the godmother of the Nebraska Cultural Endowment, which she remembered as her proudest accomplishment. It was her primary bill and was ushered into fruition.

Continue Reading…

LaVon’s Legacy

State Sen. LaVon Crosby of Lincoln, OMAHA WORLD-HERALD STAFF PHOTO BY JEFFREY Z. CARNEY. FOR USE WITH LESLIE REED FEATURE.

One of the synonyms for the word legacy is, gift; something given freely, no recompense. Another is endowment. As I pause in my hurried schedule to remember our Honorary Board Chair, LaVon Crosby, it is of significance to me that those words describe the legacy Sen. Crosby left to the State of Nebraska in the Nebraska Cultural Endowment. Continue Reading…