A Big Boost for 26 Small-Town Arts Projects

A federal funding program looks tailor-made for small, low-budget arts groups in rural areas. Just ask the arts supporters in Alto, New Mexico or Oneonta, New York.

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How many rural arts endeavors could get off the ground – or be fulfilled – with a $10,000 gift?

The National Endowment for the Arts has just announced the latest Challenge America Fast-Track grants, soon to be awarded to arts projects in 41 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S Virgin Islands.

Of the 153 recipients, 26 are based in non-metro communities, including Nogales, AZ, Guntersville, AL, Wellsboro, PA, and Hilo, HI.

The Challenge America Fast-Track program holds special promise for rural communities in that it makes grants “primarily to small and mid-sized organizations for projects that extend the reach of the arts to populations whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability.”

Furthermore, “the NEA encourages applications from organizations with operating budgets of less than $50,000 and those that have not previously applied for public funds.”

All grants are for $10,000.

The Challenge America funds are directed to high-quality, local projects (for example, festivals, exhibits, performances, public murals and sculptures, environmental art, and cultural tourism).  This NEA grant favors proposals that involve professionally trained, experienced artists and arts professionals.

In the most recent round, NEA received 393 eligible applications for the Fast-Track grants. Nearly 39% of eligible applicants will receive funding.

Illustrator Shawn McCann with his 3-D “View from Butte,” a street painting made in Bismark, ND: Through the NEA’s Challenge America program, McCann will work as artist in residence at the Circle of Nations School in Wahpeton, ND, teaching children to create their own storybooks.

Whitefish Theatre Company, in Whitefish, Montana, gained support for its International Guitar Night, a program that will bring acoustic guitarists from Brazil, Madagascar, and Great Britain to Flathead County.

In Columbus, Mississippi, the Challenge America Fast-Track grant will help the county arts council bring opera soprano Angela Brown to perform and conduct workshops with local junior high, high school and university students.

For a full list of the 2013 Challenge America Fast Track grantees (including the 26 rural projects), click here.

A Challenge America Grant to the Adrian Symphony Orchestra in Adrian, Michigan, will help fund an All-Beethoven concert featuring violinist Caroline Goulding as well as performances for local students and members of the HOPE Community Center, which serves adults with special needs.

Sally Gifford, public affairs specialist with the National Endowment for the Arts, writes that the deadline for 2014 Challenge America Fast-Track will be May 23, 2013.  Full guideline information will be released on the NEA website in early January.

 

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