Norfolk hosts state arts reception


By KENT WARNEKE | Posted: Wednesday, September 24, 2014 9:00 am

It could be called the perfect storm — in the best possible sense of the term.

The collective presence and work of the Nebraska Cultural Endowment, Nebraska Arts Council

and Humanities Nebraska has been of benefit to communities, arts organizations and individuals

across Nebraska.

“It’s a really neat thing to have everything work together,” said Suzanne Wise, executive director

of the Nebraska Arts Council.

At a reception Tuesday evening at the Norfolk Arts Center, Wise was joined by Marian Fey, the

new executive director of the Nebraska Cultural Endowment, and Heather Thomas, development

director for Humanities Nebraska, as special guests.

All three spoke about the excellent support the Norfolk area provides for the arts and humanities

and the positive partnerships in place between local organizations and the three statewide groups.

Tuesday marked Fey’s first visit to Norfolk since succeeding Pamela Snow as the leader of the

cultural endowment. While here, she met with representatives of the Norfolk Public Library and

the Norfolk Public Schools, among others.

The endowment is the “private” part of a public-private partnership with the state to stabilize

funding for the arts and humanities in Nebraska. Through two different bills passed in the

Legislature in 1998 and in 2008, the state is providing $10 million in public funds if the

endowment can match that in private donations.

By 2016, the public portion of the fund will reach the $10 million goal, and the endowment

continues its work to raise at least an equal amount from private donors.

Fey said the endowment has been successful in raising about $9.5 million, with the remaining

$500,000 the goal over the next two years.

Once realized, it will allow for increased funding for the Nebraska Arts Council and Humanities

Nebraska, which works to distribute grants to promote and highlight the cultural arts throughout


In Norfolk, for example, this past summer’s Chautauqua program was funded by Humanities

Nebraska, which also provides support for the Prime Time reading program that is present in some

Norfolk schools.

The Norfolk Arts Center receives funding from the Nebraska Arts Council, as does the Great

American Comedy Festival, Bright Horizons and many other groups through its grant application


“We have many wonderful partners in Norfolk,” Thomas said.

Wise said she continues to be impressed with the leadership shown in Norfolk for encouraging

support for and participation in the arts. “The leadership keeps getting better here,” she said. “We

notice that.”

Fey said that in the past three years, about $265,000 has come to Norfolk through the cultural

endowment and its programming partners – not counting 2014 figures, including Chautauqua.

What’s taking place in Norfolk is also happening in other communities across the state, she said.

“As I visit communities, every town is so appreciative what is coming from the Nebraska Arts

Council and Humanities Nebraska, and they’re so proud of what things they are able to offer,” she

said. “We want to see that continue.”