Exposure and access to art is essential for any prosperous community. In Montgomery, The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts has provided this for decades, and area businesses that support this mission ensure it can keep doing so for decades to come.
The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) is located in a beautiful setting on 33 acres of land within the Wynton M. Blount Cultural Park. The MMFA houses a permanent collection that encompasses 4,000 works of art, including major collections of American paintings, Old Master prints, Southern regional art, folk arts and decorative arts. Several temporary exhibitions organized by major museums around the country are also displayed each year. The popular ARTWORKS hands-on gallery, a part of the education wing, routinely draws kids of all ages. And these are just some of the features that bring tens of thousands of visitors annually to this treasure of art and art education. Even better, there’s no charge to get in. “This museum is free and open to the public six days a week,” said Emily Flowers, MMFA director of development. “Our collection is your collection.”
The MMFA is a department of the City of Montgomery, which enables the facility and permanent collection to be maintained by city funding. Funds also come through the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Association, as well as other corporate and community support, grants and private donations. These are the sources of funding that make free admission to the museum possible and also create additional programs for the community. “Our members and corporate partners are crucially important,” Flowers said.
For example, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians (PBCI) has extensively supported exhibition programs in recent years. “They are generous with funding for educational programs here at the Museum,” Flowers said. “They’re just terrific supporters in every avenue of the arts in Montgomery.”
The PBCI tribe has also partnered with the museum for the last five years in a Native American Family Day, during which the tribe shares aspects of their rich history and culture in fun and interactive ways for all ages. The afternoon of events includes storytelling, dance performances and artisan displays. This year’s Native American Family Day was held in April as a free event for the community.
Some of the museum’s programs do come with a fee, such as studio classes that provide art instruction for a variety of age groups. The annual Flimp Festival geared toward children and young people also asks for a modest admission fee. After nearly 30 years, the Festival has become one of the MMFA’s most anticipated events each spring for its full day of art-related activities and entertainment.
Thanks to continued corporate sponsorship and private donations, the museum continues to expand its offerings to the community.
A growing passion
This fall the MMFA will open a new exhibit area in its own backyard. The John and Joyce Caddell Sculpture Garden will encompass more than two acres and will feature an entertainment area and an educational courtyard. “We were delighted to announce the naming of The John and Joyce Caddell Sculpture Garden. The Caddells have a long history of supporting the arts in Montgomery, and the Museum’s incredible Sculpture Garden wouldn’t have been possible without their generosity.”
Flowers also pointed to another major corporate partner, Alabama Power, and praised a member of its executive team for her personal contributions. “The Museum has been fortunate to have Leslie Sanders as President of the Board of Trustees this year. As Vice President of the Southern Division of Alabama Power, she makes a lot of amazing things happen, but her leadership at this period of transition between directors and the construction of the Sculpture Garden has been a true gift.”
Ground was broken in 2014 for what will soon become an event and browsing space, or simply a place to sit and take in art and nature. Construction crews have completed their work, and now the finishing touches are being made. “We’ve got all the hardscape in. We’re putting in the landscaping,” Flowers said. “We’re excited to be opening in fall 2018.”
Sculpture pieces will range from contemporary to traditional. Some will be formal, others will be interactive in this outdoor and uncovered space. The sculpture garden will operate as other exhibits do in that pieces will be on loan, and art will rotate – moving in and out. Again, corporate sponsorships make these exhibits possible and help maintain the area for the Montgomery community and visitors.
High Marks for Generosity
WCOV-TV FOX 20 donated $5,000 to Valiant Cross Academy to be used as the school sees fit in achieving their mission of helping young men “rise above.” “The Brock brothers [at Valiant Cross] have done a marvelous job in teaching their students how to be kind, respectful, loving young men. We are grateful for their vision and hard work,” WCOV Owner David Woods said. Valiant Cross Academy is an all-male private school located in the heart of downtown Montgomery based on Christian principles with an intentional culture of structure and discipline. “We are truly grateful for the support of WCOV,” said Kimberly Baker, Director of Development for Valiant Cross Academy. “It is because of the tremendous support of our corporate and community partners that Valiant Cross Academy has been able to grow and thrive in the River Region.”
No Cold Shoulder
Alabama experienced prolonged freezing temperatures last winter, and extreme temperatures cause many people to use more energy than usual and can lead to higher bills. In February, the Alabama Power-affiliated Alabama Business Charitable (ABC) Trust Fund announced it was donating $100,000 to Project SHARE and the Salvation Army. ABC Trust has given $50,000 to Project SHARE (Service to Help Alabamians with Relief on Energy) to help low-income customers who are age 60 and older and/or disabled. Project SHARE is an energy assistance program administered by the Salvation Army in partnership with Alabama Power and rural electric cooperatives. The program recently extended its services to more customers by dropping its qualification age from 62 to 60. Since its inception, ABC Trust has helped about 100,000 households and given more than $30 million to help Alabamians in need.