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Posts Tagged ‘funding’

Map: Nations Online Project
Fergus Falls didn’t need much money from the National Endowment for the Arts to create both economic benefits and constructive conversation across the political divide.

As Victoria Stapley-Brown wrote recently at the Art Newspaper, the arts benefit communities in many ways, and in rural America, a little funding can go a long way.

“A grant of $25,000 is not even a drop in the bucket of the US federal government’s spending, around $3.5 trillion per year. But it was able to effect visible change in Fergus Falls, a small rural community in Minnesota with a population of 13,000, which received $25,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the government agency that funds art and culture across every congressional district in the nation, in 2011. …

“With the $25,000 NEA grant, the St Paul, Minnesota-based arts non-profit, Springboard for the Arts, which calls itself ‘an economic and community development organization for artists and by artists,’ opened an office in Fergus Falls and was able to launch a multi-year cultural project. Since 2011, the organisation has been given a total of $145,000 in NEA grants — but has also received over $1.2m in funding from private donors, such as the McKnight Foundation. …

“The project explores ‘how artists can be a part of rural economies and rural communities,’ … to encourage young people to stay in the town and see it as a viable place to make a living and raise their families …

“Artists from other communities working across all media, from the visual arts to music to film-making, have also come to Fergus Falls for the Hinge Arts Residency, a programme that has hosted 45 artists for one to three months. These artists live in apartments on the property of the formerly disused hospital complex, which has spurred a local conversation about preservation and the use of historic buildings in the town, and local politics. …

“The artists-in-residence have carried out their own work during their residencies, which often involve the local community, such as the folk and punk musician Shannon Murray’s research into music and Minnesota working class history. They have also shown work in empty storefronts and organised community art projects, such as casting architectural elements of disused buildings, and giving art classes to local children.” More here.

Hat Tip: Arts Journal.

Photo: Rick Abbott
Kirkbride Art & History Weekend at the former Fergus Falls State Hospital Complex, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Before I had children, I didn’t quite “get” Mister Rogers. I thought the slow, gentle way he talked was odd.

But then I saw how John at the age of three reacted to him, and the penny dropped. I hadn’t been able to figure out Mister Rogers because he wasn’t talking to me! He was talking to three-year-olds.

Mister Rogers did know how to talk to grown-ups when needed.

Recently, during the national discussion about possible funding cuts for the arts and Public Broadcasting, someone posted on Facebook a 1969 video of Mister Rogers testifying before US Senator John O. Pastore of Rhode Island. At the time, Sen. Pastore was chairman of US Senate Subcommittee on Communications.

It’s a great, great speech. It’s even recognized as such on the American Rhetoric website. The testimony won PBS $20 million in funding from the originally skeptical Sen. Pastore.

But what strikes me most strongly is that its power comes from the speaker’s clearly communicated belief in the essential goodness of his listener. It is communicated through Mister Rogers’s tone of voice and body language.

Faith in the listener is what came across to three-year-old John, too. “You are special. I like you just the way you are.”

See what you think.

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The Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence is an outstanding Providence nonprofit that takes a holistic approach to ending violence in poor communities.

On Thursday, I went to an open house and barbecue organized by the students in the Institute’s work program, and was mightily impressed. I shook hands with Mayor Jorge Elorza and chatted at some length with Chief of Police Hugh Clements and the Institute’s executive director, Teny Gross. Not to mention the retired priest who was a founding member, the youth themselves, and the dedicated staff. I heard some pretty inspiring stories!

The young organizers provided a tour of their headquarters, a lovely converted convent on Oxford St.

It was a great event. But here is something sad. In the five years since I visited the Institute’s old quarters, the vagaries of funding sources have forced cutbacks. They no longer have 17 streetworkers turning youth from violence toward work and better lives. They can afford only four. It seems a shame when the need is still significant.

The Institute is advertising for a development director, and they sure need a way to get more support. A big endowment to protect the work from shifts in the winds would be ideal. Read more here.

By the way, Teny Gross has been called to teach nonviolence techniques around the nation and world. He has received many acknowledgments for his success. An unusual honor this month gave him one of his proudest moments. It relates to a George Washington letter about religious tolerance.

“225 years ago, George Washington wrote a letter ‘To the Hebrew Congregation in Newport,’ which is now known as the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island. To mark the historic importance of the letter, the congregation and the Touro Synagogue Foundation conduct an annual ‘Letter Reading,’ around the time that the letter was sent. The setting is the beautifully restored Touro Synagogue, built in 1763.

“The letter was only four paragraphs long, but they were four powerful and significant paragraphs and they are regarded as critical in the history of the Jewish people in the Colonial United States.  The letter reading evolved into today’s two hour event filled with greetings from dignitaries, announcements of scholarships and an award to Teny Gross, leader in the Institute for the Study of the Practice of Nonviolence.”

Goes to show that teaching nonviolence can spread out in many unexpected ripples.

Read the details here.

Photo: Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence

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Not me. It’s a story about a man in Detroit who was so determined to get to work after his car gave up the ghost that he walked 21 miles — and attracted some unexpected blessings for doing it.

I learned about him by way of The Guardian.

“The Detroit Free Press reports that James Robertson rides buses part of the way to and from his factory job in suburban Rochester Hills. But because they don’t cover the whole route, he ends up walking about eight miles (13 kms) before his shift starts at 2 pm and 13 miles (21 kms) more when it’s over at 10 pm. …

“After the newspaper wrote about the 56-year-old’s situation … multiple people started crowdfunding efforts to help him buy a car and pay for insurance. Some have offered to drive him for free and others have offered to buy or give him cars.

“Robertson began making the daily trek to the factory where he molds parts after his car stopped working ten years ago and bus service was cut back. He’s had perfect attendance for more than 12 years.

“ ‘I set our attendance standard by this man,’ said Todd Wilson, plant manager at Schain Mold & Engineering. …

“Evan Leedy, a 19-year-old student at Wayne State University, read the story and started a GoFundMe site with the goal of raising $5,000. [In no time,] he had raised more than $90,000. …

“Asked about a federal program newly available through Detroit’s bus system that might pick him up at home and drop him off at his job, Robertson said, ‘I’d rather they spent that money on a 24-hour bus system, not on some little bus for me. This city needs buses going 24/7. You can tell the city council and mayor I said that.’ ”

More here.

Photo: Ryan Garza/AP
James Robertson, 56, of Detroit, walked 21 miles every day until a well-wisher’s fundraiser helped him get an apartment closer to the job.

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Matadero was an old abandoned slaughterhouse in Madrid. Lately it has been “evolving into a cultural laboratory, where a new arts financing strategy is being tested.” So says Doreen Carvajal in the NY Times.

“Companies and institutions are providing financial support to supplement dwindling government arts subsidies, but with a twist: they don’t just send checks, they move in.

“Within the walled 59,000-square-foot center, there are public theaters and exhibition spaces that last year drew more than 500,000 visitors for music and art events and avant-garde plays. But five new residents are private institutions, including a designers’ association, a publishing house’s foundation and offices of Red Bull, the Austrian energy drink maker.

“They are in the compound rent-free for now, but have invested millions in the remodeling of pavilions there, as well as in programming, from art exhibitions to music festivals.

“These new partnerships are forged, out of necessity, here in Spain, where government support for culture has plunged by almost 50 percent over the last four years, a result of a lingering economic crisis that hit late in 2008.”

Some observers worry about the downsides of corporations having a big influence on what art gets shown, but haven’t the arts always had to have some help from patrons or companies?

Probably it pays just to be wary, to recognize when there is undue influence, and to push back. Certainly smaller, more experimental projects are unlikely to find a home under a Red Bull banner.

Read more at the Times, here.

Photo: Carlos Luján for The International Herald Tribune
Inside Matadero Madrid: A closer look at the arts complex.

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I’m fascinated by the many ways the Internet has enabled broader support for worthy causes. I’ve blogged about Kickstarter, for example, “a funding platform for creative projects.” Through Kickstarter, friends and other well-wishers can help fund a documentary, an art installation, or a book publication within a designated time frame. Magic can happen, often with only small donations that add up.

Today OFH_John tweeted about something similar for schools, Donors Choose. Donors Choose calls itself “an online charity connecting you to classrooms in need.” You can search for projects in your local area, projects that have special meaning to you, and projects that might let your company offer special expertise.

John’s company has optical expertise and jumped on a need at a District of Columbia school, where an applied science project on light called for optical gear. Read about that here.

If you are seeking to help impoverished schools in particular, you may look for the “high poverty” rating at Donors Choose. School needs of all sorts are listed here.

Photograph: DonorsChoose.org

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A week or so ago, I wrote about CSA, community-supported arts, a concept that borrows from the community-supported agriculture movement. In case you missed it, here’s the post.

Another creative idea for supporting the arts is crowd funding. I learned about it from the Backstage blog by way of ArtsJournal.com.

” ‘I saw people believing in themselves enough to try and make money for their projects,’ said Monica Mirabile, a co-founder of the Copycat Theatre. Earlier this year, Mirabile was applying for grants for her Baltimore-based theater troupe when a friend suggested she look into Kickstarter, a ‘crowd-funding’ website that promotes artistic projects through social media and allows donors to
support fundraising campaigns with any amount of money they desire. Crowd-funding sites have grown in popularity over the last few years and continue to attract artists and benefactors. …

” ‘This is not the newest idea on the block. It’s very traditional. But we’ve become very used to the idea of someone in a boardroom giving us a check and we hand them a piece of art and cross our fingers. The longer history of art is actually one of patronage that involves the artist’s audience. …

” Users of crowd funding must summarize their projects and goals for potential donors, a process that can help artists sharpen the skills needed to pitch or develop those projects in the future. ‘I learned how to better articulate why I’m doing the project and my artwork and what we’re trying to gain,’ said Mirabile. ‘I made friends because, by promoting, I got to talk to different
people in my community and made connections.’ ”

Read more here. And if you try an approach like Kickstarter, would you let me know how it worked for you? Leave a comment.

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