Tippet Rise Art Center

Tippet Rise Art Center exhibits large-scale, outdoor sculptures and hosts classical chamber music and recitals on a 12,000-acre working sheep and cattle ranch in Fishtail, Montana. It was created by the trustees of the Sidney E. Frank Foundation, who engaged RPA for advisory services through every step of conceptualizing and building the art center.

TIME recently named Tippet Rise Art Center as one of their 100 World’s Greatest Places, featured alongside must-see cultural destinations such as the Louvre Abu Dhabi and Vietnam’s Golden Bridge. The accompanying article notes that it is “both thrumming with art…and humbling in the wide-open vistas and vastness of the landscape and sky.” It is a valued community addition to a region that was once characterized primarily by its rolling hills and ranchland.

Building the Center

The center was founded and established by artists and philanthropists Peter and Cathy Halstead. As trustees of the Sidney E. Frank Foundation, the primary funder of Tippet Rise, they understand the power of community engagement through philanthropy.

When they dreamed of creating a haven for music and art with the natural landscape as the backdrop, they turned to Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors for help in turning that vision into a reality. RPA acted as a trusted advisor through every step of the process of building Tippet Rise from the ground up.  As the grantmaking staff of the Sidney E. Frank Foundation, RPA developed relationships with the arts, education, and community organizations that are an important part of the region’s fabric. Grants to a range of local organizations demonstrated the Foundation’s commitment to the community and respect for the institutions that predate Tippet Rise. RPA also organized a series of community receptions, barbecues, and concerts to welcome local residents in to Tippet Rise Art Center as it was being created, and before it was open to the public.

Engaging the Community

From the beginning, the local community has always been top of mind in this project. Before beginning construction, the Halsteads built relationships with residents by supporting independent businesses and learning about the area’s culture. When it came time to break ground on the Center’s buildings and commissioned sculptures, they purchased local materials and engaged local contractors, to ensure that the Montana economy would directly benefit from Tippet Rise. Today, most of the art center’s employees and volunteers are local residents.

Whereas ticket prices to events in cultural hubs can skyrocket to hundreds of dollars a seat, Tippet Rise pricing embodies the value of accessibility. Each ticket for all events is only $10. For visitors under 21, tickets are free. This value is recognized in the community – Cathy and Peter Halstead love to share a story that they were once stopped by a woman who thanked them for their contributions, amazed that she paid only $10 to see her one of her favorite classical pianists at Tippet Rise. Previously she had paid over $100 a seat in a major city.

The Halsteads also strive to bring the Center’s programming to the next generation of artists and musicians across the country. Combining their commitment to youth engagement with their passion for art, the Halsteads fund multiple programs for young artists through the Sidney E. Frank Foundation. This year, students from three of these grantee programs (Connecticut College, San Diego Youth Symphony, and Oakland Symphony) had the opportunity to visit Tippet Rise and experience the cultural richness that it has to offer. As many of these students come from marginalized or low-income backgrounds, the visit was more than just a field trip – it inspired talented young artists to reflect on a potential career in the arts.

What’s Next for Tippet Rise Art Center

The Center wrapped up its third season of chamber music concerts in 2018, featuring performances by Pedja Muzijevic, Jeffrey Kahane, Anne-Marie McDermott, David Finckel and Wu Han, and the St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble. Throughout the year, 7,602 guests traveled from near and far to visit Tippet Rise for tours and events.

Despite the end of the music season, Tippet Rise continues to showcase visual arts through the fall. In late October, there was an exhibition featuring sculptures and models by renowned artist Stephen Talasnik, who also has a sculpture as part of Tippet Rise’s permanent collection.

The Center will soon boast a new addition to its outdoor architecture: a pavilion designed by world-renowned architect Francis Kéré. Scheduled to be unveiled at the opening of the summer 2019 music season, the 1,900 square-foot structure will provide a new area for guests to gather between performances.

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