Executive Director, Arsht-Cannon Fund at the Delaware Community Foundation
I have always dreamed of being an artist—like my late father-in-law, Dr. Norman Cannon, or my granddaughter, Randi H. Aquino. Falling short of this aspiration, I found something better—using my creativity to find ways to express my thoughts and emotions. Whether it is decorating a cake or making an appetizing entree, choosing and arranging a bouquet of flowers, making seasonal wreaths, or teaching my grand-daughter, Avery, how to cross-stich, I feel a powerful sense of release and control, that puts my worries—even grief—in the backseat for a while. Using art and creativity offers opposing opportunities to either dive deeply into anxiety and loss or to be temporarily distracted from the pain of it all. I have practiced and preached the benefits of art therapy for many patients, family caregivers, and nursing students during my forty years as a nurse.
The Arsht-Cannon Fund is very excited to provide a second year of grant funding to the Delaware Art Museum for its community-based program, Healing Through the Arts. Ten groups of Latinos from partnerships with the Latin American Community Center and the Hispanic American Association of Delaware (490 participants total in FY2022–23) were provided with culturally relevant and Spanish-language art wellness instruction from professionals through the Museum’s partnership with Mariposa Arts. Evaluated outcomes of the program included feeling more relaxed, less stress, feelings of inclusion and respect, and greater interest in being creative. This coming year, the program hopes to expand beyond New Castle County with pilots that combine participant stories followed by painting to express the thoughts and feelings of each person’s journey.
The Delaware Art Museum exemplifies the growth and expertise that the Arsht-Cannon Fund has fostered in its work over the last 16 years: greater inclusion, equity, and diversity among nonprofits; growing community engagement, participation, and leadership; and program excellence with opportunities to expand capacity to serve all Delaware’s Latino families. The Arsht-Cannon Fund at the Delaware Community Foundation, endowed by the late Honorable Roxana Cannon Arsht, the first female judge appointed in Delaware, and S. Samuel Arsht, a leading Delaware corporate attorney, is now advised by their daughter, Adrienne Arsht, a philanthropist who supports the arts nationally, and the environment internationally.
As the Executive Director of the Arsht-Cannon Fund, I work to carry out our mission to partner with Delaware’s nonprofit organizations to provide a variety of educational and support opportunities to our growing number of Latino families, many of whom are recent immigrants. Grants support language and literacy programs, early childhood through adulthood instruction, educational advocacy, health education initiatives, and arts and cultural learning projects.
I believe that the best results are obtained when nonprofits know and engage their communities and build trusting relationships with each other and other community organizations; in this way, they can collaborate to best meet the needs of their communities. La Colectiva de Delaware was created in 2018 by the Arsht-Cannon Fund and La Esperanza Community Center in Sussex County to foster this work. I strongly encourage arts organizations to work closely together when planning and implementing programs for the communities that they serve in common. It is a win for everyone.
A final personal revelation: In the thirteen years that have passed following the loss of my daughter, Jan, I have experienced the calm and peace that comes from being captured by the artistic work of others or when I am immersed in my own creative endeavors. Art truly can be healing for many. Thank you, Dr. Cannon, for your ongoing support of DelArt and our work to serve Delaware’s Latino communities, including Healing Through the Arts, a program offered in partnership with Mariposa Arts.
Photo by Shannon Woodloe.