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Getting $$$ For The Ants

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(Part One óf a Four-Part Series) Creative work of any kind can be quite arduous when the creators constantly have to worry about financial matters. When there is no money at all to pay the bilis, artistic creation is altogether mpossible, of course. People n the artistic community have often pointed out that, compared to many European countries, the U.S. spends an outrageously small percentage of ts available funds for direct support of its artists. Gettingan education in music, dance, the graphic arts, . or theatre isn't all that difficult- butencouragement and support of active, creative artists s practically nil in most places. Still, the federal government allocates over $81 million of the taxpayers' möney each year to support artistic endeayors, and this year the Michigan Council for the Arts is dispersing almost two míllion dollars in State and Federal funds to nearly 150 different arts organizations or special projects. Most arts subsidies, however, are distributed to large, well-established institutions such as the local symphony orchestra, classical music schools, or the libraries- which leaves sparse remains to be divided among smaller organizations, groups, and individuals where the real creative action s often the hottest. Of $1 ,800,000 distributed by the Michigan Council for the Arts this year, for example, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra at $285,000 gets the biggest chunk, the Michigan Opera Theatre gets $125,000, and the Interlochen and Meadowbrook schools get $160,000 and $110,000 respectively. 84 smaller organizations, on the other hand, got a maximum of $1 0,000 and as little as $1 ,00Q each. And there are countless art groups, musical organizations, orchestras and bands, dance compames, theatre groups and creative individuals who don't get any funding at all. Some projects ply don't qualify for public support under existing rules, but many could get some monetary assistance f the people nvolved only knew where to get it and how to ask for t. In addition to the millions of dollars donated to arts projects by corporations, individuáis, and foundations, it should be remembered that all of the so-calïed "public funding" comes out of the taxpayers' pockets. In other words, these funds come from the artists themselyes and people who live in the communities ihat the actists serve. "This s our money n the first place," is the way one local artist put t. "And we should not only know that it exists and how it is spent- but we should alsö be able to gel a good piece of it ourselves." All serious artists should be aware of the laws- local, state, and federal- which have created public funding for the arts, as well as advice on other kinds of available monies. Most of this nformation is free for the-asking at arts councils which relate to the Motor City community, including the Michigan Council for the Arts (MCA), the Detroit Arts Council (DAC), and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Re-organized under the guidelines of the Humanities Act of. 1965, the Washington D.C.-based NEA s easily the biggest source for art and culture-related funds. It has a wide range of programs designed to give monetary assisttance to creative organizations operating in several different areas. They are: Music- specifically to assist professional symphony orchestras, opera companies, national audience development programs, contemporary music groups, forums, nstitutes, jazzfolkethnic musicians, and organizations for composers and librettists. Dance -to assist dancers, 1 choreogfaphers, and dance organizations. Theatre- to aid professional theatre companies, experimental companies, play-producing groups, theatre programs for children, and theatre assistance efforts. Visual Arts- to assist individual painters, sculptors, printmakers, art critics, craftspersons, and photographers and to set up exhibitions and shortterm residencies. Literature- for fellowships for creative writers and literary organizations. Public Media-for experimental projects, residencies, workshops and seminars on films, TV and radio. Art Expansión Programs for community-based arts organizations involved with instruction and training, production of art and cultural exchange. Special Projects-involving two or more artforms, parttcularly those n traditional American folk arts. Education- for the placement of professional artists in elementary and secondary schools as well as activities outside of the traditional school environment. In general, funds are notavailable through ÑEA for individual scholarships or the acquisition or maintenance of equiprnent, buildings, or other property, but most other programs and projects would probably be applicable in at least one of the funding categories. The other major source of funding here is the Michigan Council for the Arts. The MCA has programs which provide funds for a wide range of cultural activities, includng: The Mini-Grant program, to assist in the development and completion of new projects. Artist-in-Residence programs, to make artists available to schools and communities. Touring Presenta tions, to sponsor performing groups and I hibits. Special Arts Projects, to I port cultural activities specific to a I certain geographical area. MCÁ also offers assistance n the form of Conference Assistance, I Consultant Services, and the Arts Outreach and Operational Support I to Arts Organizations programs. The Detroit CounciJ for the Arts currently is re-organizing and I s nottherefore, actively funding any cultural projects. A workshop I is planned by the DCA for early next year, however, which will center on how artists and groups can obtain public funding. ' Besides all of the public money I which is available, there are I less other sources in foundations, corporations, and individual supporters of cultural activity. Many I of these .funding conduits have been set up by wealthy persons and multi-million-dollar businesses I in order to take advantage of tax breaks which accrue to charitable activity. Tax laws require thai these organizations spend a certain I minimum of charitable money each year, and the budgets of most I of these funding groups I ly get ürger- so they are usually looking for new projects to support. To seek private funding, applications generally should be made tocommunity relations departments of large corporations and foundations. A complete listing of these sources can be found in Private Foundations and Business Corporations Active in ArtsHumanities and Educa tion by Daniel I Millsaps, in the Arts Patronage 1 es at the Main Library n Detroit. I In subsequent articles we will discuss the specifics of how, when, I and where to apply for public funds, and the overall effect of arts funding on the cultural life of I southern Michigan. Next week: How to write a grant application to the Michigan Council for the Arts. o