Facing closures and severely limited in-person visitor options, museums and other cultural institutions have experienced significant challenges over the past year.

Raju Patel, left, and Christoph Heinrich

According to a recent study by the Americans for the Arts as of July 2021, the nation’s nonprofit arts and culture organizations lost an estimated $17.97 billion. Closer to home, the Colorado Business for the Arts Economic Impact Study found that the local arts and cultural scene lost a decade of growth during the pandemic in 2020.

The study, released in November 2021, also found something surprising following a year with challenges like no other in recent memory: Giving to the arts increased by more than 5 percent in 2020 compared with the prior year.

Partnerships between cultural institutions and the business sector are an important part of the ecosystem here in Colorado and can help provide greater public access to art and support world-class experiences in our own community.

One example of a successful business and nonprofit collaboration is the Art Conservation Project, a unique program through which Bank of America provides grants to nonprofit museums across the world to conserve historically or culturally significant works of art that are in danger of deterioration.

This year, the Denver Art Museum was one of a select group of 23 conservation project recipients. As an educational, nonprofit resource that sparks creative thinking and expression through transformative experiences with art, the museum’s holdings not only reflect our city and region but also provide invaluable ways for our community to learn about global cultures.

Art Conservation Project selections represent different art movements, media, and time periods – and, importantly, cultures. Through this collaboration, the Denver Art Museum is restoring one of its most culturally significant collections, the Acoma Pueblo Textiles, to preserve artistic traditions and support the Acoma Pueblo community.

Working collaboratively with Acoma Pueblo tribal leaders, the museum will conserve 12 mantas, or shawls, made by Acoma Pueblo artists between 1850 and 1935. Each piece, woven from natural or dyed cotton and wool, features embroidered borders in geometric patterns that reflect Acoma Pueblo traditions. The conservation is underway on site at the museum now through May 2022.

We’re proud that Bank of America and the Denver Art Museum’s longstanding partnership extends well beyond this important conservation effort:

  • Over the summer of 2021, when in-person activities were limited, we partnered to bring the 10th-century sculpture “Bodhisattva of Compassion Seated in Royal Ease” to art lovers virtually through the bank’s newest art program, Masterpiece Moment, a unique digital offering that celebrates great works of art in the collections of 25 partners across the United States. 
  • We also recently announced that “Modern Women/Modern Vision: Works from the Bank of America Collection” will be part of the Denver Art Museum’s spring programming. Opening at the museum on May 1 this traveling exhibition, loaned through the bank’s Art in our Communities program, celebrates the contributions of women to the development and evolution of photography in the 20th century.
  • Additionally, Whistler to Cassatt: American Painters in France premiered November 14, 2021, at the museum. Sponsored by Bank of America, the exhibition features more than 100 paintings made between 1855 and 1913 in the first comprehensive examination of France’s stylistic impact on American painting of the period.

We believe in the power of art to enrich societies. The arts not only help to build communities and support economic opportunities, but also help us to recognize and address pressing societal issues by creating greater cultural understanding.

Especially amid the challenges presented over the past year, continued cross-sector collaboration and support of nonprofit art institutions is critical to ensuring future generations can access, appreciate and learn from great works of art. We encourage companies to consider deepening their investments in our local arts institutions.

Raju Patel, of Denver, is president of Bank of America Denver. Christoph Heinrich lives in Jefferson Country and is director of the Denver Art Museum.

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