I’m a big believer in the Biblical principle that to whom much is given, much is expected. I believe it personally and professionally, and as such, The Arts Partnership continuously strives to ensure that we are providing for our sector as often and as generously as we can.
We take our unofficial mission statement to simply #SupportLocalArt seriously and recognize that there are many kinds of support, but one of the most meaningful is financial. To that end, we have worked diligently to increase our City Arts Partnership and Individual Arts Partnership grant programs over the years along with opportunities such as ArtWORKS, Community Supported Art, Salon Party, our highly subsidized studio spaces at Aptitude and others that not only provide outstanding exposure to artists and arts nonprofits but also dollars.
As I used to say when I was a freelance writer, “I can’t put exposure on the table for supper.”
It was no surprise then that the Board of Directors unanimously approved the creation of the Emergency Fund for Arts Nonprofits when COVID caused our major shutdown in the spring – this has been extended now and is for emergency loans of many kinds.
It is also in keeping with our values that the Board supported waiving half of the rent from the studio artists at Aptitude for all these months. I was delighted when they agreed we should find an easy and transparent way to get this year’s City Arts Partnership grants into the hands of our nonprofits without going through the application process.
But it’s not just Board members who understand these needs. When I reached out to some longtime supporters of Community Supported Art this summer to get their thoughts on ending the program in September after a highly successful nine-year run, one of the longest continuous CSA programs in the nation, those supporters all said, “This program is more important now than ever, this is one way we can directly support artists and make a difference for them!”
We listened to that enthusiasm and added an additional artist to the September share to show that we had heard their desire to be providing even more support. And instead of cancelling next year’s season, we increased the amount artists will be paid to produce art for the program. And we’re doing that with ArtWORKS in 2021 as well.
We believe in the arts sector, and we believe in supporting the individuals and the organizations that make our Metro the cultural, artistic and vibrant community that it is.
So you can imagine my utter shock at a recent conversation I had with Carl Atiya Swanson, Associate Director, Operations & Communications of Springboard for the Arts in St Paul. Carl had reached out to see if we wanted to participate in a consortium with *six other organizations across the upper midwest to ever further support local artists. I’m not sure I actually let Carl finish his ask before I shouted out, “YES!”
But there was more. They are working with an anonymous family foundation, so in addition to the connections to the other organizations, there is actually financial support to do more of the good work we are already doing! This isn’t about making a new program or fitting someone else’s expectations; this is about us being recognized as experts of the arts sector in our community and knowing our staff’s capacity to do additional work. In short, this is a dream come true. And that’s when the tears sprang to my eyes.
So, without further ado, I am thrilled to announce that we have created or extended three programs for individual artists of all types and at all stages of their careers:
More detailed information and the various applications can be found on the grants page.
Springboard has long been a leader in the region and nation for their understanding and support of the arts and the value they provide communities. We have always had a good relationship with them, but this new opportunity is simply an incredible gift. I am choosing to think of it as one of those universal karmic moments that you sometimes get to witness.
Instead of hunkering down during COVID and hoping that the arts sector would survive, we’ve stepped up to provide better existing opportunities and new ones, instead. And I think it’s because we spread our resources around where we could that we are being invited to do even more. We are so grateful to both Springboard for the Arts and the anonymous family foundation for the privilege to do this work and be part of this collective.
*The Arts Partnership is part of the Upper Midwest Emergency Relief Fund coalition, in partnership with Arts South Dakota, Crosshatch Center for Art & Ecology, CultureSource, ImagineMKE, Racing Magpie and Springboard for the Arts.