The Creative Arts Initiative is a non-profit philanthropic organization that seeks to aid artists (both professional and amateur) in their pursuit of learning their craft, creating their art, and reaching their audience. This mission is accomplished by supplying financial, educational, and professional aid and other holistic forms of support where deemed necessary.

Music Can Change the World

During the late 17th century, there was a young man who, following in his family's footsteps, diligently pursued the craft of songwriting and instrumental performance. After finishing his formal music education, he found work as an organist in a church, giving him a creative home that would foster his talent and imagination and pay him a fair wage. With this support, Johann Sebastian Bach challenged himself to compose and produce works of art that were musically groundbreaking and unrivaled in his time. His more than 1,000 concertos, cantatas, and chorales certainly pushed forward the musical boundaries of his day but also captured the hearts and minds of generations to come. From Beethoven to the Beach Boys, Johann Sebastian Bach's contrapuntal innovation is readily found, and continues even today in the music of a 21st century generation.

The Creative Arts Initiative was created to support innovative artists, like Bach, and to utilize structures similar to those found in his day to provide a healthy environment for the creation and pursuit of art. Artists today are equally as capable of creating art that explores the depth and breadth of life, but they need systems in place that support them, just as Bach did. We work with artists in their pursuit of their craft and we connect them to business advisors, art professionals, and financial resources, to assist them and their art as it spreads throughout society. 
In the current landscape of the music industry, the forces of commerce can drown out the voice of art itself; hindering its truthfulness and ability to transform and soothe; hindering artists from creating freely. However, there are many artists who are determined to not let commerce or popular sentiment dilute the richness of their works. We strive to support those who seek to do this diligent work. Theirs is the story we seek to continue.

The following are projects CAI would like to begin in 2015.

We would like to financially support:

5 musicians in recording and promoting new albums.

2+ online videos created for artists.

2+ online videos created for arts education purposes.

2-4 musical theatre pieces in any step of the process (including staged readings, full performances and everything in between)

1-2 visual artists with art supplies

Host 1-2 artist events, for salon discussion and artist community.

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.


The board of directors and management team collectively share nearly 60 years of experience in the music business. Some consider us experts in our various fields but we like to think of ourselves as fans...fans of the art and the artists that create it. The Creative Arts Initiative does not support any full time staff, making it possible for the vast majority of the funds we receive to go to artists and artist programs.

Board of Directors
Mark Nicholas- Simpleville Publishing
Kirk Dahlgren- Founder of CAI
Lori Chaffer- Waterdeep/Hey Ruth Inc
Don Chaffer- Waterdeep/Hey Ruth Inc

The artists supported by the Creative Arts Initiative represent different disciplines, styles, and audiences. The artists served by the Creative Arts Initiative will either apply for a grant or be chosen by the CAI executive director and board of directors. They are chosen based on need, ability to complete the project they have proposed, intent to grow and excellence.