On May 6, 2024, RCE executive director, Shaleen Powell, presented an annual update on Roanoke Cultural Endowment before City Council. The presentation covered RCE fundraising status, 2023-2024 annual highlights, and important collaborative projects and community engagements RCE helped facilitate.

RCE Executive Director Shaleen Powell presenting before Roanoke City Council in May 2024.

Fundraising Update

Roanoke Cultural Endowment is pleased to share we have now raised $6 million dollars to-date. This $6 million milestone represents nearly a third of our $20-million-dollar endowment goal.

RCE is grateful for the City of Roanoke’s partnership and consistent support. The City stands as Roanoke Cultural Endowment’s single largest donor, as they have contributed $1.65 million to the RCE endowment to-date—evidencing its commitment to elevate and strengthen the cultural infrastructure in Roanoke. The City of Roanoke is also our partner through our collaboration with the Roanoke Arts Commission and Doug Jackson, the City’s Arts & Culture Coordinator, to advocate and advance the role of the arts in our community. 

Every single donor – no matter the giving level – who makes a gift to help reach our $20 million dollar goal, is considered a founding donor of Roanoke Cultural Endowment.  Currently, we have hundreds of founding donors, with gifts ranging in size from $5 to $500 to six-figure gifts.

And our momentum is only growing! RCE averages $1 million in contributions annually, which we hope to surpass in the coming year. This year, RCE has amplified its fundraising operations to include a Legacy Giving program, focused corporate and individual engagements, increased donor appeal mailings, and participation in GIVE Roanoke day as an awareness-building campaign.

Fundraising Update: $5 million (gifts and commitments); $1.65 million from the City of Roanoke; Legacy Giving.

Legacy Gifts

Legacy gifts are a crucial part of this effort. In addition to the $6 million dollars in outright gifts and pledges received, we have also secured multiple legacy gifts; including one in the amount of $5 million dollars.  This year, we are focused on expanding our planned giving efforts to fill our pipeline of future gifts to the endowment.

Annual Highlights

Over the past year, much has taken place for RCE. We have 2 new board members. Kay Strickland has joined us following her tenure at Carilion Clinic Foundation.  And Victoria Thornton, with Roanoke City Public Schools, is our recent City-Council appointed board representative.  Their perspectives, skills, and passions are critical to advancing our work. 

Additionally, we are now an office of 2 staff members!  In January of this year, we filled a much-needed, new office assistant position to help manage our day-to-day organizational needs. This allows the executive director’s role to shift toward fundraising and community engagement opportunities.

Collaborative Projects & Community Engagement

As we work to build our $20 million endowment fund, RCE has also maintained a commitment to facilitating short-term impact projects in partnership with the City to advance the arts sector collectively. 

6-Part BUZZ Series: ARTS CONNECT Roanoke

In 2023, we wrapped up the final two episodes in our 6-part Buzz4Good series exploring the many ways the arts connect our community. (Watch the full 6-part series here). Here are highlights from those final two episodes:

Episode 5: Arts and Economic Development (June 2023)

The fifth episode was in partnership with the City’s Economic Development department, and explores the role the Arts play in recruiting, building, and investing in economic projects. The marketing components for this episode did not disappoint!  In addition to an arts-focused economic development webpage and printed materials provided by LeadPoint Digital, this is where the It’s Here! music video was born.  A wonderful visual showcasing of the arts in Roanoke set to a soundtrack by Bryan “Harvest Blaque” Hancock and JP Powell, this video has inspired us and has been viewed 37,000 times on YouTube!   

Episode 6: Arts Connect Neighbors (January 2024)

The last episode focused on the Arts Connect Neighbors project. Working alongside the Roanoke Arts Commission, it highlighted the role the Arts play in community development and in helping neighborhoods achieve their goals. Ansty Hodge advertising group hit a homerun with the marketing component they provided. The print and online catalog of art offerings is stunning.   

Arts Connect Neighbors 2024 Catalog Cover.

Daisy Art Parade

What has become one of our favorite community engagement events, is the Daisy Art Parade.  This year, the Endowment partnered with the Roanoke Arts Commission to host the Arts Connect Krewe.  This group was comprised of arts & cultural organizations united in full force to create art and parade art together.  We made paper mâché critters featured in the Cole Porter song “Let’s Do It. Let’s Fall in Love” (through the Arts).  Over 55 colleagues, including a handful of City Council members, walked with our krewe in the parade. It was a joyful day.

Arts Connect Krewe at the 2024 Daisy Art Parade.

Experience Conference

Additionally, it was a pleasure to participate on the planning committee for the Roanoke Regional Partnerships’ Experience Conference this year as a representative of arts and culture. The conference took place May 2-3, and intentionally included a series of ‘artistic interludes’ throughout the two days. We also developed a panel discussion entitled “Creating Vibrancy Through the Arts”, facilitated by Doug Jackson and featuring panelists Jon Murrill, Elani Spencer, Tyler Lyon, and Lisa Linger. They had a lively conversation on how they are using their creativity to make Roanoke theirs.

RCE Impact and the Future of Arts & Culture in Roanoke

The arts contribute to the success and prosperity of our community. They bring people together by creating shared experiences and contribute to quality of life for our residents while also making Roanoke an exciting place to visit.

RCE will one day provide a new, sustainable source of funding for over two dozen arts and cultural nonprofit organizations in the City of Roanoke. This forward-thinking approach to arts-funding is truly visionary and not found in many localities across the nation. 

Roanoke Cultural Endowment is committed to fostering a vibrant future for Roanoke’s arts organizations where additional funding generates new possibilities. With their basic needs covered, our arts nonprofits can focus on what they do best—the innovative work that makes Roanoke a more culturally vibrant, socially whole, and economically prosperous community.

You can help us build a sustainable future for Roanoke’s arts and cultural nonprofits by supporting the Roanoke Cultural Endowment today!

©2024 Roanoke Cultural Endowment. All rights reserved.