About the 7 Arts Foundation's Vital Work

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The Foundation

Our Mission:

The 7 Arts Foundation is committed to fostering healthy North American communities through arts-based development, management and training that offer dignity, hope, aid and assistance to artists...

Our Vision:

We envision communities in which many people can discover and engage their individual and collective creativity and intellect, altering the face and the heart of America for the common good. And, when facing adversity, to offer our Members and Recognized Guests help, resources and encouragement.


Our Values:

The 7 Arts Foundation Foundation celebrates and perpetuates the life, work and values of its founder, Dr. Marshall Thomas, a leading exponent in making creative communities a reality.

  • The arts spring from a common wellspring of inspiration and celebrate the essential humanity.of those who work, study and produce expressions in the 7 arts
  • Everyone should have the opportunity to participate in arts and design experiences.
  • Each committed artist, designer and dedicated instructor or supporter of the arts has the capacity to "alter the face and the heart of North America."
  • The applied arts have the power to ignite lasting change through many forms of literacy training.
  • The 7 arts are an essential part of building healthy communities, sustainable livelihoods and meaningful lives.
  • Applied arts and design expressions play an important role in placemaking.


  • Ensure the work of Dr. Thomas is accessible.
  • Serve as catalyst and convener, resource and guide.
  • Facilitate grass-roots pilot collaboration and partnership initiatives.
  • Identify and promote best practices for arts-design-based community development.

The operating Foundation was formed in 1979 as an outgrowth of pathfinding projects headed by Dr. Thomas in Boston, MA, Providence, RI and York, PA - including Yorkarts (now, Creative York), The Junior Arts Centre, The Arts Discovery Centre and his work as the first Bon-Ton Foundation Fellow. The Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering the arts and a member of Fractured Atlas. Unlike most foundations, the operating Foundation does not grant funds.




ADI - our certified downtown redevelopment division | We're engaged by CEOs and CFOs of nonprofits and family-owned and operated businesses to advise them on the following: branding and identity; leadership succession; dealing with organizational behavior issues; mergers and acquisitions; corporate social responsibility coordination; planning and resolving design issues; participating in downtown renewal projects; government relations; and, determining what is missing in their organization. We're your industry leader in consultations and advisories for small and mid-sized towns and cities looking to re-develop downtown areas using arts and design tools. Certified by the City Beautiful Commission since 2005.

COLOSSAL CONCEPTS MANAGEMENT - our outstanding career management division | We're engaged by authors and performers, artists and designers, producers and directors, to help them manage their careers in North America and Europe.

Our current business client list includes urban renewal projects, historic preservation organizations, management consulting services for a design consultancy, a foreign education centre, a marketing firm, a chemical manufacturing and distribution company, a warehousing and logistics firm, a real estate management company, a fine art gallery, and personal management services for professional writers, directors, producers, performers, visual artists... we donate our overages to nonprofits and to the study and redevelopment of spaces in hamlets, towns and villages that need engaging destination districts to attract viable businesses, better-than-average-paid employees, valued cultural tourists, new residents, paying guests and repeat visitors.


Case Statements "We are what we believe when we give, and nothing more." Dr. Marshall Thomas '00 Address

Link: Selected Major Corporate, Professional & Business Members & Guests Using Our Web Service

TRAINING & ADVISORY SPONSORS: Our loyal sponsors include GM Solutions, D&G Manangement, THOS. Illustration Studios, Abernathy Company, City Beautiful Commission, The Peoria Project, the Quad Cities Study Program, and individual artists, collectors and studios.

The Top 28 Artist & Designer-led Destination District Types From Which You Can Choose:

Arts District   Arts District & Marketplace  Arts & Antiques District   Arts & Cultural District   Arts & Design District   Arts & Entertainment District   Arts & Historical District  Arts & Open Studios District  Arts & Sciences District     Arts Deco District  Arts Education & Recreation District  Arts & Technology District   Arts & Theatre District  Arts & Warehouse District   Arts Gateway District   Arts Overlay District  Arts Superblock  Cultural Arts District  Cultural District   Entertainment District  Historic Arts District   Museum District  Museum & Theatre District   Giftbox Design District TM    Performing Arts District  Photo District   Theatre District  Theatre Arts District


These varieties have been chosen because 1) the names and the concepts for these arts, design and culture-based  corridors, superblocks and clusters resonate strongly with the identities of  founders, visitors and participants, 2) because their operating models work better than any other grouping of destination districts that can be found contributing to the identity and economic recovery of North American towns and cities, and 3) because artists and/or designers help govern and operate many of the mosre successful districts people find most appealing and critics find most engaging.

WHAT ARE THE SEVEN ARTS?  An Important Aside...

We get this question all the time whenever we are fortunate enough to be invited to join a panel, lead a workshop or audit or consult on the development of a district; the answer --- Music  Dance  Theater  Literature  The Fine Arts  The Applied Arts and The Illuminated Arts (which include still photography, videography and film).


Over the years, we have come to realize that one purpose of art is to enhance life. By observation of arts, design, business, government and media personalities and practitioners who assert themselves on this broad cultural stage, we have noticed the following:

  • Some art appears to help deepen life's meanings, helping make some people livelier...
  • Some art seems to help enrich life's reach, helping increase some people's self-confidence...
  • Some art evidently helps distill life's spirit, thereby helping increase the flames of hope in some people...
  • Some art appears to help refine life's assertive claim on the environment, helping some people to keep life itself going...
  • Some art seems to help enable the force of life's vitality, helping some people reduce self-doubt...
  • Some art evidently helps some of us to capture what redeems that sense of life meant to reduce fear, helping some people to accept, tolerate, believe, witness...
  • Some art is only about itself or its creator, helping some people revere, loathe or remain indifferent to the artist, helping some people to define their own creative impulses, limits and work...

We are grateful to observe, advise, consult and otherwise help you, our Members + Guests, colleagues and friends all, when they offer meaning, give meaning and even defy meaning -- all so long as the arts expressions used reflect the edifying, lasting values of the community they serve. Therefore, we are committed to helping artists and designers make their handiwork useful and alive and valued, to helping developers 'get it right' so the risks are rewarded appropriately and the neighborhoods grow suitably, to helping government leaders value design and the many positive outputs, outcomes and satisfactions that come with arts redevelopment and revitalization programs, and finally, to helping boards of directors and managers work with operating and governance models that fit the exacting work arts, design and culture-based districts are meant to accomplish.

And a little note on destroyer art, for those looking for it: We have yet to see sustainable value attached to works made without the function to enhance or enliven human life; we observe that most of you see destroyer art as a self-conscious theft,  a dark jape, a wounding or a corrosive fear made clear - and, we agree. Therefore, we rarely find destroyer art as part of the design pattern in arts, design or other cultural corridors. When we do, we will report our findings for the benefit of all of you.

Thank you. Marshall A. Thomas III, D. Phil.   Re-printed with permission from  Arts Answers and excerpted, in part, from Planning Volume, PLANNING, DEVELOPING & MANAGING ARTS DISTRICTS, rev. ed., Copyright 2008, by Z Publishing



Clearly, few arts, design and other cultural districts have the necessary staff and time, the budget, the expertise and the full reporting capabilities to make the required annual case for support. And, too often, municipal, county, state and private foundation budget offices need credible planning projections, strategic ouput reports and even benchmark evaluation documents to be able to support arts and cultural corridor requests for funding and technical assistance support. The foundation has learned and written down the essentials for planning, budgeting, reporting, evaluating and making cases to governments and businesses: the general forms and checklists appear in this website; the specifics are known to each corresponding Member.

Since 1979, our niche, our passion, has always been to make certain our Members' districts serve their participants, their constituents and their visitors without having to divert large amounts of limited resources, and so that their vital arts, design and cultural program priorities get the attention they deserve without fail.

We recognize that many a district's transactions are unique and that not all communities and developers have the same operating and financing requirements. We tailor our training efforts to meet each project's individual needs. As the consulting intermediary, our advisors and trainers pledge to commit the highest levels of expertise, and to back up this pledge with the best guarantee in the sector; as an organization with a long track record helping others plan clusters, corridors and districts, we respond compassionately, knowingly to every initiative and every transaction regardless of size or complexity. Our hands-on approach and first-hand expertise helps Members solve problems by working with district leaders to learn how best to meet art and design presentation criteria, capital and finance requirements and mission imperatives.


Nonprofits must faithfully fulfill a vision or opt for organized abandonment; thrashing about merely to survive as an institution is not a viable option. --- Excerpt, MISSION MANIFESTO, co-published with the 7 Arts Foundation, copyright 1995, by Marshall A. Thomas III




Born in Pennsylvania, Marshall Thomas retired from an active career as a vocalist, music teacher, director and award-winning producer to author a dozen books and dozens of articles and guides, compose over nine hundred sacred and chamber works, paint or design over a thousand works, manage authors' careers, design destination districts and theorize on aesthetic determinism. He serves or advises boards of directors for nonprofits, government agencies, foundations and businesses. Married to Ruth Anderson, Thomas earned a Master of Organizational Psychology degree from Trinity's Graduate School of Theology and a Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Behavior from the Trinity Institute. After attending the Peabody Conservatory of Music and the New England Conservatory of Music, Thomas juggled a large creative workload and heavy business travel schedule with his continuing studies through the Oxford Method; he belongs to six societies and guilds. He has devoted his life to church, family and clients, and founded the operating foundation by giving a minimum 50% of his net earnings to further the mission of this and other organizations.

                        --Marilyn Gibson, GM Solutions President: marketer to the foundation since 2000

                        Co-author, with Thomas on a forthcoming book: Hospitality, Cultural Tourism and the significance of destination districts 



We respect your privacy...  We take privacy and confidentiality seriously, and therefore, we promise your personal information will be: fairly and lawfully processed; processed for limited purposes; relevant and not excessive; kept no longer than is necessary; processed in accordance with the data and informations's subject's rights; and, not transferred to countries without adequate protection.  Link to Full Notice: Website Use.



Management: Colossal Concepts Management - www.colossalconcepts.org

Venture Philanthropy Affiliates & Associates:













Important Legal Notice: By any use of this website, you agree to be bound by the Website Terms and Use Conditions

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without written authorization from the 7 Arts Foundation. PLEASE READ THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS CAREFULLY BEFORE USING THIS WEBSITE. 


7AF:  Downtown District Solutions Arts Marketplace Solutions Antiques Design Downtown Entertainment District Historical Open Studios Sciences Art Deco Education Recreation Technology Theatre Warehouse Arts Gateway Arts Overlay Arts Superblock Cultural Historic Arts Museum Giftblox Design Performing Arts Photo Theater Arts District Downtown Solutions

Looking for your destination district or corridor in the North American Directory?

CALL OUR D.C. OFFICE | 10-4 CST, Weekdays | 202.670.3457

The 7 Arts Foundation's parent organization and founder, Arts & Design Corridor Partnership (30-0456226) and Dr. Marshall Thomas are members of Fractured Atlas, a national service organization which can provide Fiscal Sponsorship under its 501(c)3 status and Liability Insurance to its members.


Go to our updated Statistics page, down the left hand column to learn where we focus our attention. Then, look on that same column for why many arts, design and culture-based destination districts impact the social, economic and political landscape. 


Find your district listed or mentioned in this web site's DISTRICTS page & then access data in our FAVOURITE LINKS page.

Want to know the prevailing characterisitcs of arts-inclusive districts across the continent? Here's what we found out when we surveyed 100 arts and cultural districts and arts districts in 2004 and 2014:

78% use a Special Zoning Overlay       46% encourage Developers and Other Participants to make an Incremental Building or Improvement Commitment     62% make a Commitment to Installing Public Art    22% employ a TIF Scheme to Help Finance Redevelopment and General Improvements    10% use a "Close Project Review" Method    44% invented a Streetscape Plan, often based upon Best Practices found in Arts & Cultural Corridors within 100 Miles of their Emerging District    8% originated from the essences of Arts Agglomerations       80% use one or more of the following Elements to help Translate Their Arts or Cultural Story into Metaphors, Storylines, Themes, Signs and Symbols: Aesthetic Emphases, Exploring over 40 Aspects; Amenities Emphases, Exploring over 20 Aspects; Animation Features: Exploring 10 Aspects; Architectural Emphases: Exploring over 20 Aspects; Artifacts Emphases: Exploring 7 Aspects; Arts Discovery Space Emphases: Exploring nearly 20 Aspects; Business Emphases: Exploring over 30 Aspects; Commemorative Emphases: Exploring 8 Aspects; Designations Emphases: Exploring over a dozen Aspects; Elements Emphases: Exploring 6 major Aspects; Garden Emphases: Exploring 8 Aspects; Gateways Emphases: Exploring 7 Aspects; Illuminated Emphases: Exploring 5 Aspects; Special Event Production Emphases: Exploring 6 Aspects; and, Urban Design Emphases: Exploring 6 Aspects.

For a closer look at what N. A. arts and cultural corridors are doing, and why, go to the Collections page in this web site and learn how to order a copy of CHARACTERISTICS OF AN ARTS-INCLUSIVE PLACE/ 2004-05 STUDY.

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This page is underwritten for the Membership by Modern Masterworks Gallery Members, please visit them and recieve an outstanding discount of 40% on any collectible print from the catalogue; offer extends through 31 August, 2008. Thanks for visiting our sponsors. The 7 Arts Foundation staff and advisory board.

Copyright 2008, by ARTS ANSWERS, a division of Z Publishing


Help arts, design and cultural corridors' extensive network of artists and artisans, using their acclaimable expressions and services to help stimulate sustainable growth, measurable revitalization and kindred stimulation, thereby, giving renewal to a varied and skilled, hand-wrought culture that provides jobs, attracts visitors and tourists bearing wallets and goodwill, and therefore, reinforcing the values that edify people who live, work and play in corridor-defined communities.

A 3-year action plan, revised Spring, 2014, with the following outcomes anticipated:

1.  Develop new arts and design cultivation strategies for sustainable, measurable growth in cities, towns and villages that can be shared in instructional, training and advisory settings.

2.  Work with our academic and practitioner bases to focus on venture philanthropy programs to meet increased demand for acclaimed visual, literary and performance arts expressions in all corridors; and, re-tool our training projects that focus on entrepreneural, studio-based activities and the needs of emerging nonprofit projects formed specifically to meet the challenges and opportunities found in well-defined corridors.

3.  Re-develop effective and up-to-date communications plans to help our Members generate local arts, design and cultural activism, and to help districts of all kinds to support and initiate meaningful contact and links with other arts, design and cultural corridors.

4.  Invent regional micro-economic strategies that can reward artist/artisan/design-based industries and related nonprofit and commercial cultural tourism initiatives, e.g., curated venture philanthropy models and resource-sharing models.

5.  Recognize the achievements of object presenters and performance producers, directors, underwriters, co-sponsors and co-producers, with a special emphasis on achievers who rely upon cooperative and alliance capital and artisitc programs and other shared resource initiatives shaped to achieve their mission aims.

6.  Encourage public, private and nonprofit sectors to develop non-invasive interdependent approaches that can sustainably develop arts, design and cultur-based districts' handmade industries.

7.  Conduct a best practices study to help determine ways that corridors have successfully invented sustainable economic opportunities for handmade industries participants while coping with corridor-wide tourism, insitutionalism and commercialism pressures.

8.  Overcome the barriers to publishing a bi-annual guide that directs Members to studios, galleries, mainstream and alternative arts, design and other cultural venues, workshop sites, performance sites, etc...

9.  Overcome the obstacles to studying the most effective ways many districts can interact with one another through regionally focused intertown and intra-city walks, festivals, special events, media links, etc...

10.  Overcome the resource drain long-associated with fostering hub-based, clustered downtown revitalization projects that rely heavily upon art-scaping and micro-economic development initiatives for artist or designer-driven/governed districts.

11. Conduct cost-benefit analyses for Member arts, design and culture-based corridors using ever-more precise metrics and user-friendly reports that can be shared in instructional, training and advisory settings.

12. Shift the focus toward studies that help Members to use cause/effect schematic projections, to help Members understand the issues surrounding emphasis/neglect parameters, and to study the effects on districts that choose to actively compete for tourism and visitor dollars by means of re-positioning perceived competing corridors.

13. Develop Program Budgets for 2014-2017

BOARD OF DIRECTORS for the 7 Arts Foundation, an operating foundation since 1979

Copyright 2014, by 7 Arts Foundation


The 7 Arts Foundation is not affiliated with any government agencies. We are the only provider and are licensed by the Member authors and guests featured in this web service. These pages and all contents are the property of the 7 Arts Foundation. Information on this web site is intended for Members of the operating foundation and citizens of the United States and should not be considered personalized. The 7 Arts Foundation may only transact business in a state in which it is either registered, excluded or exempted from investment and loan advisor registration requirements. These pages are not intended to provide investment advice nor are they designed to effect or attempt to effect transactions in securities or the rendering of personalized investment advice. Rather, these web pages are limited to Member dissemination of general information on training products and advisory services provided by the 7 Arts Foundation for the benefit solely of its Members.


Our destination district corp of volunteer advisors and organizations reports donating over $351,000 in technical assistance, informational assistance and consultations this past season. Congratulations on a job well done, 30 years and counting...


THE 7 ARTS FOUNDATION GUARANTEE  If you are ever not satisfactorily served by a requested 7 Arts Foundation training program or advisory project, for any reason, you will receive a full and prompt refund on all remaining days of your Membership or the term of your service covenant, no questions asked.


We do for a mission what we would otherwise do for the sake of creativity were it not that we must make a living.

Contact The Managing Director

MEMBER CONTACT: 7AF new all points number in the MidSouthidWest: 309.621.3590| M-Th 11-3 EST; Sa. 11-12N CST.