Barbara Sexton Smith

2013 Honoree - Michael Newton Award


Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education, announced today that it is presenting the 2013 Michael Newton Award to Barbara Sexton Smith, President & CEO of the Fund for the Arts. Given annually since 1991, the Michael Newton Award is presented to an individual, staff member or volunteer in recognition of his or her innovation in developing private sector partnerships for the arts and/or long-term achievement in effective, and creative fundraising techniques. The award will be presented June 15th at the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in Pittsburgh.

“In a time when financial support for the arts is hurting across all disciplines, Barbara Sexton Smith’s continued leadership is truly admirable,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “Her visionary approach and unwavering commitment to advancing the arts has benefited thousands of people working in and participating in the arts throughout the Louisville area.”

In Sexton Smith’s tenure at the Fund for the Arts, the average gift through the workplace campaign grew from $87 in 2001 to more than $167 in 2011. The percentage of total dollars raised from employee campaigns increased by 25%.

Sexton Smith is also responsible for the creation of the Fund’s NeXt! leadership development program, the goal of which is to prepare the next generation for volunteer leadership roles in the area of arts and cultural interests, with a strategic focus on strong corporate citizenship. Throughout the program’s two year commitment, NeXt! members attend monthly educational sessions about fundraising and professional development and are paired for fieldwork with one of the Fund’s cultural partners. Not only is NeXt! an exceptional fundraising technique (all 44 NeXt! host organizations are also donors to the Fund), it is an innovative example of a partnership with the private sector. Regional law firm Stoll Keenon Ogden PLLC has sponsored the program for the past three years, absorbing the cost for program participants.

“It is such an honor to be receiving this award,” comments Sexton Smith. “I’ll bring it home and share it with our entire community because they are the ones who deserve this. We are lucky to live in a place where the arts are paid for and provided for everyone. I believe art is the common thread that connects all humanity and I get up every day looking for ways to create community connections through the arts. We believe a great American city is safe, healthy, educated and vibrant. The Arts are key to making this happen. Together through the Arts we create a great American city!”