The Creative Arts Initiative is a non-profit organization that seeks to help artists in the pursuit of learning their craft, creating their art, and reaching their audience. 


We help artists of any and all disciplines by supplying financial, educational, and professional assistance.


We believe that many talented artists don't easily have access to the knowledge, the means, and the money they need to create, complete, and promote their works. In an era of swiftly changing technology, artists are among the first to suffer from a world that is willing to offer up their works for very little money, or for free. We look back to a time, before art was capitalized, and when it was largely funded by patrons who valued what it brought to society. We also see that many artists work hard but lack the time or finances to become excellent, in every aspect of their lives. These are the people we want to help.

In 2012, Kirk Dahlgren, who also was executive director and founder of Creative Arts Initiative (CAI) asked us (Don and Lori Chaffer, of the band Waterdeep), if we would be interested in taking over CAI. We were indeed interested, however, we knew that, in order to run CAI successfully, we needed to take some time to research and get legal counsel on how exactly to effectively and efficiently run a nonprofit. And so we did just that, followed by the process of tweaking the vision to more aptly fit our skill set.

As we pondered what we wanted for CAI, one thing became clear. It has become increasingly hard to make a living as an artist. I mean real hard. For example, 1999 was the apex of the music industry, with total revenue from U.S. music sales and licensing topping 14.6 billion. Ten years later it plunged to $6.3 billion.* And now that streaming has begun to overtake digital downloads, the downturn continues. The music industry keeps scrambling and countless artists and related arts specialists continue the long slow process of trying to find new ways to make a living doing what they do best. Meanwhile, technology continues to effect all areas of art. We began wondering, like everyone else, what can be done.

Then, one day while talking with a friend of ours. We were reminded that the music industry is only about 50 years old. Before that, how was art afforded? 

Once upon a time, before the capitalization of recorded music, before songs were monetized, there was a patronage system. Whether it came from the church, state or private donors, most of the great artists of our past were supported by patrons. Imagine if the Medicis didn't exist. There would be no Divine Comedy, or even, subsequently, what we know as the Italian language. If patrons didn't pour into artists, Da Vinci, Dante, Michelangelo, Shakespeare, and Bach, among others, might not have had the time to explore, create, or change their culture and our lives. Clearly, some of the greatest artists of all time were afforded time, training, and creative output thanks to those who valued what their works brought to society. Even now, the truth is, without patronage there would be no professional ballet, opera, symphony, theatre, musical theatre, visual arts, not to mention museums, music halls, and performing arts centers. 

Furthermore, as Don has been involved in musical theatre, and as we continue to work in the music industry, we've seen first hand the ever-growing need for, not only financial support for artists, but also for someone to take the time to help artists grow and develop a vision for their work. Even in the recent past, despite their focus on the bottom line, record labels still had A&R departments to help guide artists along the way. They knew that it was worth the time, money, and effort to pour into an artist for the long haul, so that they weren't just one hit wonders, but career artists who made meaningful and lasting art.

So that's what we plan on doing with CAI. We want to help artists make meaningful art, and live meaningful lives, in a culture that too easily commodifies that which is not commodifiable.




To send a check by mail: 
PO Box 2074
Antioch, Tn 37011

The Creative Arts Initiative relies exclusively on donations from private foundations, trusts, art related philanthropic organizations, and from individuals who recognize the impact that art can have on each of our lives, and the culture at large. If you own/know of a business that is interested in making a larger donation or in partnering with us please email