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Making Art Matter

Sally and Sandy Cutler’s support of the museum’s new strategic plan is one of many major contributions
Julie Evans, Donor and Member Communications Manager
April 17, 2018

 In November 2017, the Cleveland Museum of Art announced the launch of its ambitious strategic plan, Making Art Matter: A Strategic Framework for Our Second Century. Sally and Sandy Cutler, two of the museum’s most ardent supporters, were among the first to endorse it. 
With a $2 million gift from the Alexander M. and Sarah S. Cutler Family Foundation, the Cutlers have bolstered the CMA’s ability to realize the goals presented in the plan. Resulting from an intensive and inclusive yearlong process, the plan is the road map for the next decade as the museum begins to navigate a second century of leadership and service. 
“Sandy and I really liked the idea of kick-starting the plan through our donation,” Sally says. “We derive a great deal of pleasure from seeing things get accomplished and not just talked about.”
The strategic plan lays out new approaches to the acquisition, care, exhibition, and interpretation of art. Guided by a series of initiatives formulated in the plan, the museum will leverage the power of place to deepen visitors’ engagement with art and culture. The plan also addresses strengthening the museum’s financial position and enhancing its organizational culture. But perhaps above all, the plan focuses on ways to make art meaningful to all audiences.

Landscape Design Through their support of the Grounds Master Plan, the Cutlers are continuing a tradition that goes back to the mid-1920s and the Olmsted Brothers. This 1932 planting plan drawn by C. O. Gates for the Fine Arts Garden is from the original Olmsted Brothers Plan No. 101 of 1927. Courtesy CMA archives

Through the newly created Sally and Sandy Cutler Strategic Opportunities Fund, the couple will support priorities set forth by the CMA and director William M. Griswold. “Sandy and I believe in Bill’s ability and vision for the museum,” Sally notes. “We want to support him in moving forward as best we can.”

In an effort to realize the greatest impact, the fund will focus on three areas:
Community and Education Programs This initiative includes more family-friendly programs, the new Connie Towson Ford Teaching Innovation Lab, the Summer Teacher Institute, and expanded access to and scholarships for educational opportunities for low-income families. 
Grounds Master Plan The future development of the Fine Arts Garden and Doan Brook areas will be realized through the creation of this plan.
Northern European Galleries This reinstallation project focuses on reorganizing existing paintings and bringing works out of storage.

The gift will also support other goals of the museum, such as developing new technology and exchanging works of art with other museums.


The Cutlers’ relationship with the Cleveland Museum of Art dates to the mid-1980s when the couple moved to the Cleveland area from Milwaukee. Over the years, they have remained loyal supporters of the museum, and have donated to the capital campaign and endowed the director’s position.
Sally also gives her time and talent to the board of trustees, on which she has served for 15 years in different capacities, including vice chair and secretary, as well as chair of the Nominating and Governance Committee, and chair of the Development Committee.
“I love the notion of working as a team to establish policies and solve problems in order to move the museum forward,” Sally says. “I’ve met many friends who share the common interest of wanting the very best for our museum and its future.”
The CMA is among many nonprofits in the area that have benefited from the Cutlers through their leadership skills and visionary thinking. 
“Sandy and I are very grateful that Cleveland’s founding fathers have given us great cultural gifts,” Sally reflects. “I can’t help but believe that those individuals wanted future Clevelanders to sustain the legacy that they so generously established. We believe that with privilege comes the responsibility for making our community better.
“It is our hope that we are helping to give new generations the ability to enjoy great art.”