I.E. Grants for Creatives, Calling on Community Input
By Dianne Anderson
Creative artsy types and nonprofits that are not in-the-know about how to go after up to $100,000 in grants may find the process intimidating, but a new project wants to help smooth the way.
Coming up no later than January, listening sessions will open up to help simplify the approach to get the community in the money.
The public is invited to participate.
Jennifer Kane said that she doesn’t want anyone to be misinformed about how to compete, or to feel left out.
“We want to design this with you, we’re talking about what the goals of the program are in advance of the application process itself. We want to know what barriers were in the past to help us reduce the barrier for this application process,” said Kane, executive director at Arts Connection, the Arts Council of San Bernardino County.
Funding from the California Arts Council, the Inland Empire Community Foundation (IECF), Arts Connection (the San Bernardino Arts Council), Riverside Arts Council and California Desert Arts Council will regrant $4.7 million back to the local community.
Recent funding comes by way of Gov. Gavin Newsom with legislative support for the new California Creative Corps pilot arts program, part of a one-time $60 million statewide General Fund allocation for the California Arts Council.
Grants range from $25,000-100,000, which nonprofits could apply to hire an artist as part of a year-long public campaign in innovative public art, media and engagement projects.
Nonprofits are not required to be in the arts to qualify, but they must show dedication to certain project themes, including public health awareness to stop COVID-19 spread, water and energy conservation, and climate mitigation. Artists and programming will also address emergency preparedness, voter and civic engagement, and social justice and community engagement.
Applications will become available by next spring, with the timeline for grant distribution expected by June.
Kane said they want to take the long approach so everyone can understand how to best access the support they need to launch their particular projects. The guidelines for the applications will be created based on what participants describe as hindrances that they may have experienced in accessing grant funding in the past.
As the process shapes up, she said they will have many offerings around technical assistance available to help applicants apply.
“All that information will be as wide as possible and put out in the public,” she said.
Plans for community outreach are now being developed, and they are hiring community members and partners – about a dozen who are experts in their fields of work – who will help design the applications.
Those selected must be familiar with specific areas for the creative core program, she said. “[Such as] public health, climate justice climate change, voter engagement civic engagements. We’re looking for folks that have expertise in those particular sectors, not just in the arts.”
Inland Empire-based organizations can vie for grants to hire artists directly that will help them with their work. Individual artists also have an opportunity to pursue their favorite projects, for example, in support of social justice issues.
She feels the program has the potential to move the needle for organizations that haven’t worked with artists and creatives before. Part of the hope is that the artist has a role in the conceptualization of solutions to social issues, such as housing.
“How can we engage artists to think through affordable housing solutions for the Inland Empire, how amazing would that be?” she said. “We would like to engage artists to think creatively about solving some of these key issues and building public awareness about these key issues in a way that hasn’t been done before.”
Because the state also has a tight cap on administration funds with any organization that applies for funding, she said 80% of the funds must go out to the artist. As the project unfolds, the anticipation is that the impact will be more than pondering what’s upon the wall.
There can be a practical application of how art influences society for the better.
“There’s a lot more of a public will campaign, sharing out the projects as they get funded, as they’re developed, it’s really trying to push the work of some of these development ideas that are happening in the region,” she said.
She said it’s hard to tell where the notion of the starving artist narrative stems from, but she believes that society must consider the aesthetic in creativity as having worth and value that goes beyond what meets the eye.
Kane is excited about hearing what the community is thinking, and the creative ideas that will come out of the process.
“We want to give artists a task and get them proper pay to do it. They are going to create some amazing things, and we need to just create the space to listen,” she said.
To learn more about how to compete for the grants, see
https://artsconnectionnetwork.org/ or contact firstname.lastname@example.org