In 2006, Chris Annas, the CEO of Meridian Bank, was looking for a location for his West Chester branch when he saw the ornate building at 16 West Main Street in downtown West Chester. The building housed the Garrubbo Bazan Gallery, but the owner was contemplating closing her gallery and finding a new use for the space. An art enthusiast himself, Annas saw an opportunity to fuse the business of banking with art. He envisioned a gallery that would serve artists and offer Meridian Bank clients exposure and connection to contemporary art. And so, the Art Trust at Meridian Bank was born.
Originally organized by a group of five contemporary artists whose goal was to support and cultivate a contemporary aesthetic of art for the benefit of artists, the Art Trust Gallery at Meridian Bank is a non-profit, volunteer-based organization. Artwork from The Art Trust adorns the walls in the lobby of the Meridian Bank West Chester office, which is staffed by customer service representatives and commercial loan officers that welcome visitors and serve the area’s business customers. The Art Trust Gallery at Meridian Bank is a unique example of an institution that enhances the local cultural environment by linking local business, civic philanthropy, and the arts.
Meridian Bank’s partnership with the Art Trust is much more than just a landlord, supporting The Art Trust as a funding sponsor. At The Art Trust’s inception, board members carried the weight of its financial responsibilities. Five years ago, however, Meridian Bank committed to funding the Art Trust’s entire operating budget so that every dollar that the Trust brings in can go to the artists themselves and to funding charitable causes. The Art Trust at Meridian Bank now holds six to eight exhibits a year and all net proceeds from sales go to art scholarships and sponsorships. Last year, The Art Trust Gallery at Meridian Bank awarded seven $1,000 scholarships to local graduating high school students to fund the continuing of their art education. While supporting the artistic community, Meridian Bank has successfully found a way to communicate its core beliefs through a tangible aesthetic.
Today, the Art Trust at Meridian Bank’s board is a blend of professional artists, art patrons, art professors, and business professionals joined by a common thread of an unwavering enthusiasm for contemporary art. Together with Meridian Bank, they are keeping art infused into their community.