By Jan Worth-Nelson
In a first wave of benefits from the arts millage approved by voters last fall, 22 Genesee County arts and cultural organizations encompassing jazz, ballet, theater, art, and architecture received grants totaling $440,000 from the Greater Flint Arts Council (GFAC) last week.
The “Share Art Genesee 2019 Community Arts Program Grants” ranged from $3,500 to $30,000, according to Greg Fiedler, president and CEO of the Greater Flint Arts Council, which solicited applications and coordinated the review and distribution process.
Recipients received their checks at a celebration at GFAC offices Wednesday, complete with food and music. All 22 organizations sent representatives, Fiedler said, and presented two-minute summaries of their programs.
“They loved it,” he said. “They appreciated meeting each other and said they’d like to do it several times a year.”
The Share Art program was designed, Fiedler said, to help local arts organizations reach their potential in “transforming our communities in to vibrant, inclusive destinations with a unique sense of place.”
The recipients are:
Flint Children’s Museum, $30,000
African American Drum & Dance, $20,000
Buckham Fine Arts Project, $30,000
Red Ink Studios, $6,250
Flint Hand Made, $5,000
Amplifier, Inc. (Flint Public Art Project) $30,000
Shop Floor Theater, $30,000
Whaley Historical House, $30,000
Grand Blanc Arts Council, $3,500
Fenton Arts Council, $5,000
Clio Cast and Crew, $30,000
Fenton Community Orchestra, $30,000
El Ballet Folklorico, $30,000
Flint Community Players, $30,000
Jazz on Wheels, $4,750
Genesee County Historical Society, $25,650
Fenton Village Players, $28,500
Clio Center for the Arts, $24,080 plus $4,750 for cultural planning
Swartz Creek Area Art Guild, $11,200
Fenton Arts and Cultural Commission $14,400 plus $4,750 for cultural planning
Swartz Creek Fine Arts Association, $9,000
AIA Flint Chapter, $3,170
“Art can be a powerful way for multiple narratives to heard, seen and included in the knowledge and experiences of a community,” said Thomas Webber, chairperson of the Greater Flint Arts Council.
The arts can build a sense of community, he added, though shared experiences, improved quality of life, and stimulating economic development.
The GFAC distribution is only part of the windfall from county taxpayers, who approved the .96 “Genesee County Arts Education and Cultural Enrichment” millage last August. It will yield about $8.7 million/year for the next ten years–and is being divided among many of the region’s institutions.
GFAC, in addition to an allocation of about $88,000 in annual operating funds, is receiving about $500,000/year for regranting to other arts and cultural institutions county-wide. About 12 percent of that goes to administrative costs, the rest directly to successful applicants. A nine-member anonymous review panel of “people from all walks of life interested in the arts” reviewed the applications, he said.
Fiedler said of the applications received, three did not meet the criteria but of the rest, “everyone got funded at either 95 or 100 percent.” He said one applicant, the Flint Folk Music Society, declined its grant because the organization is disbanding. Those funds were then redistributed among the remaining recipients, he said.
The next distribution of Share Art Funds will be in 2020.
The millage costs about $48/year for the average homeowner, at .96 mills making it the third highest in the county. Initially, funds go to the Genesee County Board of Commissioners, who pass it on to the Flint Cultural Center Corporation for distribution and to GFAC.
As detailed in a November East Village Magazine story, according to the plan worked out between executives of the arts institutions and the Genesee County Board of Commissioners, the four largest institutions–The Flint Institute of Arts, The Flint Institute of Music (including the Flint Youth Theater, the Flint School of Performing Arts and the Flint Symphony Orchestra), The Sloan Museum/Longway Planetarium, and the Whiting Auditorium/Capitol Theater–each receive about $1.8 million/year.
These amounts represent between 25 and 30 percent of the institutions’ budgets.
And the Berston Field House and the Floyd J. McCree Theater each are receiving about $415,000/year.
EVM Editor Jan Worth-Nelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.