Public Can Weigh-in on Artist Funding Program
by David C. Barnett
The ending of a grant program that supports individual artists in Northeast Ohio has prompted questions in the local arts community about what happens next. The agency that distributes cigarette tax revenues to area artists and arts organizations will discuss that at a board meeting, Monday afternoon.
Cuyahoga Arts and Culture (CAC) has supported local museums, orchestras and other arts groups for over a decade, through revenues from a 30-cents-a-pack tax on cigarettes. For the last eight years, CAC has also provided funding for the work of individual artists. But, this Creative Workforce Fellowship comes to an end on December 31. CAC executive director Karen Gahl-Mills says it's time for a new grant program that obliges recipients to show a stronger connection to the community that funds them.
"With all CAC grants," she says, "the primary criteria we make for it is how the art connects to the community. And so, it's important for us that that also flows through any artist fellowship program that we would design, as well."
Some local critics argue that there was nothing wrong with the Creative Workforce Fellowship. Count playwright and former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones in that camp. He says he plans to be at the meeting:
"I just want to hear from the board that 'We hear you, we're listening, we're going to take our time with this, we're going to have an appropriate number of community forums, and that we value the arts.' And that: arts for art's sake does provide a community benefit."
The CAC board meeting takes place at the Idea Center, Monday afternoon at 3:30.
ideastream receives support from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture