Individual Artist Grants Resume, With Changes

Cuyahoga Arts And Culture has announced that during its meeting Monday, February 9, the board voted to make a grant to the Community Partnership for the Arts and Culture, which would re-instate its individual artist grant program, the Creative Workforce Fellowships, for the year 2016. The process was suspended for the current year while the organizations re-examined funding criteria for individual artists.


The arts policy thinktank Community Partnership for the Arts and Culture administers the individual artist grants CAC had asked CPAC to submit a new proposal for the program, including greater emphasis on community engagement. The discussion took place in an atmosphere of declining revenue from the cigarette tax, which meant less money to go around.


CAC director Karen Gahl Mills told CAN in an earlier interview that the timing—a year before Cuyaoga County voters will probably be asked to renew the tax—was coincidental.


The year’s hiatus, declining revenue, and revised criteria all have had their effect on the awards.


The first change artists are likely to notice is that the grant amount has been reduced 25 percent, from $20,000 to $15,000.


Grants had previously been made to different disciplines in alternating years, but putting the applications on hold for 2014 meant that visual artists didn’t get a turn that year. In the coming application cycle, all disciplines will apply for a total of 40 individual artist grants of $15,000 each.


Applications will be due in the Fall, for funding the following year. Application information will be available, and the application season opens in May.


When Public benefit became a consideration for the grantmaking process, artists had questions about how the grantmaker would make judgments of public benefit, and what exactly that meant. CPAC’s information about the new grantmaking cycle includes a statement about the public benefits of funding individual artists. Among the benefits cited are access, connections, creative solutions, economic activity, empowerment, community identity and pride, an informed community, and the creation of new, original work.


Cuyahoga Arts and Culture makes a statement about the vote here:


The Community Partnership for the Arts and Culture announces the new grants on its website, too, including more details and links to the grant proposal.


The fellowships will be part of a conversation between CAN Journal editor Michael Gill and CAC director Karen Gahl Mills in the First Unitarian Church of Cleveland discussion forums March 15.