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The David Fraher Fund for Innovation

In 2019, Arts Midwest established the David Fraher Fund for Innovation in honor of former President & CEO David Fraher.

This Fund recognizes and celebrates David’s legacy of curiosity by creating a space for Arts Midwest to pursue a question that was at the forefront of his career: What if we tried something different?

Rooted in the belief that artists and organizations thrive when they are given the space to think big and test new ways of working with their communities, the David Fraher Fund for Innovation was created to offer a source of courage funding to seed new projects and new ideas. It invites our field to reimagine how we work together to ensure the Midwest continues to be a place where arts and culture thrive. And it creates space to take risks, learn from them, and pivot along the way.

About David J. Fraher


Arts Midwest President Emeritus David J. Fraher

David J. Fraher served as Arts Midwest’s founding president and CEO from 1983 until August of 2019. During that time, David guided Arts Midwest to its current position as a major force in the U.S. arts and culture landscape, with creative programs and services reaching close to one million individuals each year in communities across the Midwest, the nation, and the world.

At the helm of Arts Midwest, David designed and oversaw an array of programs that have had a lasting impact on the region’s cultural landscape. These include efforts to foster cultural exchange between the Midwest and more than three dozen nations around the world; support communities across our nine-state region in celebrating, exploring, and enjoying performing arts residencies and visual arts exhibitions; and develop leadership initiatives that have since strengthened arts organizations and our region’s cultural infrastructure for decades. His vision was for a region that had lasting access to creativity, and he approached all of his work with curiosity and collaboration.

That compelling vision, and David’s unprecedented leadership, have been recognized nationally and internationally, with awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, National Assembly for State Arts Agencies, the Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China, and the Association of Performing Arts Professionals, among others.

As Dana Gioia, former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts reflected, “David’s career at Arts Midwest measurably changed American culture for the better.” Arts Midwest is honored to celebrate David’s legacy and to continue to bring his visionary work to communities across our region.

Our thanks

We wish to extend our gratitude to the friends, colleagues, and leaders across our community who have invested in this Fund.