Three Austin arts organizations had grants reviewed yesterday by the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council (SEMAC). The three organizations, the Austin Area Art Center, the Austin Symphony, and the Matchbox Children’s Theatre each requested $4000 from SEMAC.
Each grant was reviewed by the arts council, a group of 12 different artistic individuals from throughout the southeastern Minnesota area, based up three main criteria. The artistic quality and the merit of the project to the arts is the first criteria. The second is a demonstrated need for the project by the artist, arts organization or the general public within the community that the organization serves. The third is the ability of the applicant artist or arts organization to accomplish the project. Such questions as how well do the resources such as qualification of artists personnel, facilities, activities, etc., meet the project goals or what is the community involvement and support for the project are used to judge the grant proposals.
The three organization all submitted proposals for general operating grants. Within that category though each organization crafted their proposal for different things. The Art Centers was for utilities and budgetary needs. The Austin Symphony’s request was for the salary of a staff member who is now assisting Stephan Ramsey, Symphony Director, in organization functions. The Matchbox Children’s Theatre proposal was mainly for increased production cost for the 2012 season.
These three long standing organizations of the greater Austin area have been in operation for a long time. Therefore, the ability of each organization to carry out their grant proposal was high. The artist merit of the each organization was given mixed results from different reviewers. The need for the funding for each request was not in question to say the least.
After the review, there was time to interact with the reviewers. One of them, Alan Calavano, stated that in the grant process, he “would like to see how the budget for the grant project fits into the over budget of the organization. It speaks to the organizational level of the arts organization.” Another item that Liz Bucheit, Panel Chairperson, said is that, “tickets for arts event ought to be charged as it validates the value the arts have.” She was elated to see that more of the 22 arts organizations being reviewed were charging for their events. These and many other grant writing tips were given at this review.
Stay tuned to the Austin Area Arts Examiner to find out if each of the organizations got their grant. Each was ranked by the panelist after they were read. The results of the ranking will be given that next monthly meeting of the SEMAC.