Silvis: The spirit of the season includes giving gratitude


Darren Silvis is the development director for the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation.

Autumn on Delmarva means more than enjoying the beauty in nature’s art and the changing colors that are creating inspired natural canvases. It means the season of harvest, of new beginnings and embracing the change of what is to come. It is also the season of giving and gratitude, while finding ways to create connection and community through graciousness. In the spirit of the season, I hope you’ll be inspired to make the Freeman Arts Pavilion and the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation a part of your year-end giving and gratitude, as we look toward the future of creating opportunities to elevate the human spirit.

You most likely know us for our summer concert season — which features about 70 performances with a genre-diverse lineup showcasing concerts such as Styx, Cheap Trick, Darius Rucker, Brandi Carlile and Lady A — but did you know Freeman Arts is a nonprofit organization with a mission to provide arts access for all?

Our staff works year-round to provide live arts experiences on Delmarva. Our organization reaches over 130,000 people every year through ticketed and free performances. These events not only take place during the summer season but reach students and community members with offseason performances at places like schools and community-centric locations, including libraries and Boys & Girls Clubs.

Our Arts Access Initiative provides free arts experiences through our Arts in Education and Community Access programs. Around 30,000 children on Delmarva, ranging from pre-K to high school, enjoy live arts programming at no cost to them, the schools or their families. These programs are funded through donations from community members, in addition to state and federal grants, so that everyone can enjoy memorable arts programs without the barrier of a ticket cost. Without the generous support of these individuals and grants, we could not continue to impact our community through arts experiences, which provide joy and connection and create a sense of belonging.

During the 2023-24 school year, we will present eight programs in schools throughout Sussex County and Wicomico and Worcester counties in Maryland. These programs range from spoken word to visual arts, like drawing; dance and instrumental music; and even a musical theater performance held at Freeman Arts Pavilion for students to attend as a field trip. This year, we are also making a difference for teachers by offering professional development opportunities — a new option that comes at no cost to teachers or schools. This initiative was developed through feedback from our partners in education; teachers, administrators, school board members and more provide input and ideas to our organization so that we can continue supporting the community at large. Providing this kind of experience to teachers has been an exciting endeavor of increasing arts access for all through many unique opportunities.

We’re also excited to share that we’ve expanded our ticketed performances in the offseason. This fall, we held a sound-healing event and will host a holiday cabaret performance soon. Both events provide new experiences for fans of the summer concert lineup, while still being accessible to the general public.

So, where does the giving come in and how can you help? As a nonprofit, the community’s support is imperative and vital to our mission. Supporting our organization and the work we do for our community at large can be as a ticket buyer, a volunteer or a donor. At this time of year, a monetary donation can be the most effective way to support our mission. A gift of any amount can make a significant impact and helps us maintain our high-quality arts programming and vision of transforming lives through the arts.

Visit to make a donation today. Thank you in advance for your consideration of support — your contribution this holiday season will change lives right here on Delmarva. We are excited for our growing impact, and we look forward to the journey with our community that will get us there.

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