9/21/2011 - City of Asheville new state artist grant administrator
by Carol Motsinger - Asheville Citizen Times
The arts are alive in the mountains of Western North Carolina!
ASHEVILLE -- The City of Asheville has about $50,000 to give away to artists this year. For the first time, the Parks, Recreation & Cultural Arts Department is supervising the awarding of subgrants from the state's Grassroots Arts Program.
To help artists apply for the funds, the city will host its first in a series of free workshops about the application process from 12:30-2 p.m. today at the Black Mountain Center for the Arts.
The subgrants were previously administered by the Asheville Area Arts Council, but the N.C. Arts Council stripped the city nonprofit of that responsibility earlier this year due to concerns about the organization's vitality.
According to the Janie Wilson, the Arts in Communities director at the N.C. Arts Council, the panel that recommends grants administrators for each of the state's counties "felt that the (Asheville arts council) should focus on rebuilding itself."
Wilson noted that the city group has gone through "a lot of changes in the last three or four years."
The changes included the closure of its downtown offices and gallery in June 2010. The organization also was without an executive director for more than a year.
But the council has a new leader -- interim director Graham Hackett -- who has spearheaded a new chapter for the nonprofit in its new home since January: the Artery in the River Arts District. In August, he brought back the Color Ball, the group's signature fundraiser that wasn't produced for the last three years.
Wilson isn't sure how many times the Arts in Communities panel has denied the application of a returning grants administrator, a recommendation that has to be approved ultimately by the secretary of the Department of Cultural Resources.
"Any time that an arts council has two to three years of great change and financial issues," Wilson said, "it's not unusual for the N.C. Arts Council to work with another organization in the community."
Council still involved
Since 1977, the N.C. Arts Council's Grassroots Arts Program provides funding for the arts in all 100 counties of the state through partnerships with local arts councils.
He noted they are "taking a lot of strides," which include adding board members and programs, "and have done quite a lot to put the arts council back on its feet."
But, he said, "we don't have the organizational vitality that they were seeking for that (Grassroots) allocation at this time."
After the state panel made its decision to not recommend the city arts council as Grassroots administrator, Wilson approached the City of Asheville to assume the responsibility.
"They are identified as a neutral party and have the administrative staff to manage the money," she said.
The grant allocator can keep up to 10 percent of the grant allocation to cover the time and costs of the project, said Diane Ruggiero, superintendent of the City of Asheville Cultural Arts. This year's grants total $49, 850.
The application and grant process will not change under the city's direction, she said. "The process is dictated by the state," she said.
"We are just really glad that we can have a role in making sure the money allocated for us" can be distributed, Ruggiero said. "It's not a matter of who does -- we just want to make sure that happens ... that money is going to have a significant impact on the programming we are able to see in this country."
Grassroots grants workshops
12:30-2 p.m. today, Black Mountain Center for the Arts, 225 W. State St., Black Mountain.
12:30- 2 p.m. Thursday, Weaverville Public Library, 41 N. Main Street, Weaverville.
12:30-2 p.m. Friday, Recreation Park Offices, 72 Gashes Creek Road, Asheville.
Applications for North Carolina Arts Council Grassroots Arts Program subgrants are due to the City of Asheville Cultural Arts Division by 5 p.m. Sept. 30. Applications may be mailed or hand-delivered but must be received by the deadline. Faxed or emailed applications will not be accepted. Application forms and guidelines are available online at www.ashevillenc.gov/parks or may be picked up at the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts office at City Hall, 4th floor (70 Court Plaza, Asheville, NC 28801), 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. The Cultural Arts Division will also mail applications and guidelines upon request. To learn more, contact Diane Ruggiero at 259-5815 or firstname.lastname@example.org.