Our 2016 Crusade Engagement Grant cycle is now open, and we thought you may get some inspiration from an update on our very first grant-winning program, Start With Art. Here's an update from grant winner and Start With Art founder, Matthew Conboy:

Start with Art: Pittsburgh began 2015 with our first three hospitals, our first artist, and of course, our first baby art collector. We started off with fantastic media coverage from our local newspapers and several blogs. We ended 2015 with one last newspaper article on December 26th and almost 3300 of the world's youngest art collectors. Along the way, I received additional financial support from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as well as the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, who funded the translation of each print into written descriptions for the benefit of individuals who may have vision impairment. 

March's Start With Art photo by Dylan Vitone

March's Start With Art photo by Dylan Vitone

As excited I was for the 2015 slate of artists and photographers, I was even more surprised with the quality of 2016's artists. Many of the artists are in numerous museum, corporate, and private collections, and they couldn't wait to get started with this project. Only a few weeks ago, Jake Reinhart (January's photographer) wrote to tell me that two of his friends had babies who came home from the hospital with his prints. He had a tough time expressing how special the parents felt and how honored he felt to have these babies collecting his art. Events like this aren't just limited to Jake: there were more than a few artists from 2015 experienced the same thing.

Perhaps the most exciting event in 2016 will be our 5,000th baby art collector. This will occur in July and the Mayor and city council have already prepared a proclamation and will present the baby and family with their art work at a city council meeting. Other tasks for 2016 include finding funding for 2017, as well as meeting with hospital administrators from two other hospitals to ensure that all 17,000 babies born in Pittsburgh begin life as art collectors. Finally, I have chosen all twelve artists for 2017, and although I have not made their names public, they are, by far, the most talented and prestigious group I've had so far. Pittsburgh's babies will be lucky for years to come!

Click here for the most recent press story on Start With Art!