2020 Cultural and Arts Investment Program Recipients

The City has completed a strategic plan, titled Savannah Forward, to guide focus areas and resources. To align FY20 resources with the Savannah Forward initiative, the City invested in organizations that position arts, cultural, and creative programs as catalysts to meet the City goals of Economic Strength, Poverty Reduction, and Neighborhood Revitalization.

2020 Cultural & Art Investment Program Organizations: 


Deep Center, Inc. -- Deep Literacy Programming -- $100,000                        

Deep Center’s mission is to empower Savannah’s young people to thrive as learners, community leaders, and agents of change. Through creative writing, cultural production, and art, Deep creates platforms for the city’s youth and the village of support around them, including their families and adult allies, to share stories, engage in debates, and make Savannah a more just and equitable place.

Examples of Funded Programs:

  • Young Author Project (YAP): The Young Author Project, Deep’s introductory program, engages public middle school students with language and their stories to help them grow as learners, celebrate their lives and communities, and express themselves with skill, confidence, and courage.
  • Block By Block (BYB): Block by Block is Deep Center’s year-long program for creative writing, leadership, and community-building.

Mountainfilm on Tour in Savannah -- Movies that Matter -- $15,000

Mountainfilm on Tour – Savannah uses the power of film to educate and inspire audiences to create a better world. Mountainfilm showcases nonfiction documentary stories about adventure, the environment and cultural, political and social justice issues that matter.

Examples of Funded Programs

  • Movies that Matter - Movies that Matter is an educational and entertaining playlist of 5–10 documentary shorts, designed to educate and inspire students. After viewing the films, students participate in Q & A sessions with directors and personalities from the films and educational materials are available for teachers to use in the classroom. 

Savannah Ballet Theatre -- The Nutcracker -- $35,000

It is the mission of Savannah Ballet Theatre (SBT) to develop and showcase the talent of dedicated Savannah dancers and to engage in educational outreach and promotion of the art of dance within our community. Savannah Ballet Theatre was established in 1998 and is recognized as the premiere dance company in Southeast Georgia. SBT is best known locally for its annual production of the perennial holiday favorite, The Nutcracker. Using WWII-era Savannah as the backdrop, it is an event that has become a tradition for the community and one that honors the history and unique character of the region. SBT presents a full season of classical and contemporary dance and has staged productions of Giselle, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Peter Pan, an original adaptation based on C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Little Mermaid, Sleepy Hollow, and The Wizard of Oz.

Examples of Funded Programs

  • The Nutcracker - Featuring the Savannah Ballet Theatre Orchestra, the legendary Tchaikovsky score fuels the performance of this classic holiday ballet at the Lucas Theater.
  • ReachOut - The program reaches up to 800 students of all socio-economic backgrounds and gives them an up-close look at classical ballet in a studio setting. Students enjoyed a brief performance by SBT’s professional dancers and the session concluding with the kids learning a few moves and performing them live.

Savannah Book Festival -- $10,000

The Savannah Book Festival (SBF) is an annual event, free and open to the public, in celebration of the written word and its role in improving the human experience. The mission is to promote reading, writing and civil conversation. 

Examples of Funded Programs

  • SBF@Schools - SBF@Schools brings both fiction and non-fiction authors into local middle/high school and university classrooms to discuss creative writing, history, science and current events. Authors share their early educations experiences, influences and successes in their writing lives and inspire students.

Savannah Jazz Festival -- $85,000

Savannah Jazz was born out of the Coastal Jazz Association, a grassroots non-profit organization formed in 1981 to help Jazz thrive in Savannah, Georgia by sponsoring live performances, encouraging Jazz education, and fostering the camaraderie of others with shared interests. Savannah Jazz is responsible for the annual Savannah Jazz Festival, the Savannah Jazz Hall of Fame, and the Savannah Jazz Orchestra.

Examples of Funded Programs

  • Savannah Jazz Festival - The annual Savannah Jazz Festival is distinguished by its accessibility for all people by hosting free performances and programs. The Annual Savannah Jazz Festival offers over 25 free world-class blues and Jazz performances during the week-long festival, offering opportunities for all races, classes, and cultures of people to unite peacefully through America’s indigenous art form of jazz music. 

Savannah Music Festival -- $100,000

The Savannah Music Festival is dedicated to inspiring and growing audiences of all ages through engagement with the musical arts, we advance our vision through an array of musical performances that include dance, film, and narrative programs. 

Examples of Funded Programs

  • Musical Explorers - Musical Explorers, a year-round program developed in partnership with Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, is designed to connect students in grades K-2 to the diverse musical community. The tuition-free program builds basic music and life skills as students learn songs from different cultures, reflect on their own communities, and engage in music exercises that incorporate lessons in history, geography, literacy, mathematics and social studies. Interactive concerts held in the fall and spring allow students to meet the professional musicians that have guided them on their musical journeys.
  • Jazz Academy - SMF Jazz Academy program gives students the opportunity to learn an instrument and be a part of the SMF Jazz Academy Big Band. The program provides complete after-school care consisting of academic assistance, dinner, snack, and transportation to and from the program site. SMF Jazz Academy aims to empower the whole student by instilling life-long skills of academic, social, and musical achievement.

Savannah Philharmonic -- $100,000

Savannah Philharmonic’s mission is to provide the highest level of musical performances and musical education programs, featuring the highest caliber professional musicians, a volunteer chorus plus internationally acclaimed soloists in order to enrich, educate and exhilarate diverse audiences.

Examples of Funded Programs

  • Link-Up Young Person’s Concerts - Each February, the Savannah Philharmonic offers two Young Person’s concerts for area students in collaboration with Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute. The Link-Up Young Person’s Concerts are presented after students study a three-month curriculum provided by Carnegie Hall in their music classes. After the curriculum is fulfilled, students get to join the Savannah Philharmonic for their “debut” performance, playing their recorder flutes alongside our very own Philharmonic musicians!
  • Orchestra Lab - Orchestra Lab consists of in-school education and outreach programs during the entire school year. Philharmonic musicians, in partnership with music teachers and band directors, provide in-school sectionals, helping the students to achieve their personal and academic music goals. Collaboration with fellow not-for-profit Friends of Ben Tucker provides three “Keep the Music Playing” workshops to schools that have instruments donated to them for their use inside and outside of school. 

Savannah Pride -- $10,000

Savannah Pride is an inclusive non-profit that fuels a transformational movement celebrating, affirming and advocating for the LGBTQ+ community through public events, education, advocacy, and social engagement. Programming supports local queer artists by funding their work and providing a platform to showcase their work to the broader community.

Examples of Funded Programs

  • Stonewall Block Party - On June 28th, we celebrate the legends who risked their lives and safety for a better world. We celebrate the great patriots who understood that making America great meant fighting for those on the margins of society. We celebrate the lives lost and the love gained by all those who have fought for justice against an oppressive state. On June 28th, we celebrate the birth of PRIDE!

Savannah State University -- Savannah Black Heritage Festival -- $80,000

In 1999, Savannah State University (SSU) was designated by City Council, as the official parent organization for the Savannah Black Heritage Festival. As the parent organization, SSU has provided in-kind services which include staff for full administrative, legal and fiduciary services, as well as office space, equipment, security and use of campus venues.

Examples of Funded Programs

  • Savannah Black Heritage Festival - Savannah Black Heritage Festival is a professionally-produced, multi-disciplinary festival, under the administration of a core of community volunteers. SBHF’s goals are to 1) expose, educate and provide cross-cultural and cross generational experiences for Savannah’s citizens and visitors that raise awareness and enhance appreciation for contributions made by Africans and African-Americans to this country’s history and culture; 2) present a variety of professional, educational and cultural events in the performing and visual arts to a diverse age, socio-economic, ethnic and limited ability clientele, targeting youth and underserved populations, to enhance the development of cultural literacy and intrinsic values; and 3) present programs that provide experiential experiences for targeted audiences relative to the Strategic Priorities of the City of Savannah. Other festival components include health and wellness activities, financial planning, entrepreneurial education, and intergenerational experiential learning opportunities.

Telfair Museums -- $100,000

Telfair Museums is the oldest public art museum in the South. Telfair Museums consists of three unique buildings: the Telfair Academy and the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters, two National Historic Landmark sites built in the early 19th century, and the contemporary Jepson Center for the Arts. The museum develops awareness, understanding, and appreciation of the arts and serves as a dynamic cultural center connecting people of all ages and backgrounds.

Examples of Funded Programs

  • Art in Our Neighborhoods - Telfair Museums’ 2020 Art in Our Neighborhoods project presents a series of events to Savannah citizens with an emphasis on education for at-risk youth and expanding awareness of the city’s history, in particular the Southern African American experience. The program will consist of: community outreach sequential learning sessions at sites throughout the city, free tours of museum exhibitions, multigenerational Free Family Days, and an original exhibition and symposium entitled The Legacy of Slavery in Savannah, examining slavery’s affects in the United States Southeast from the 19th century to the present.