How Seven Arts Groups Spent $25,000 In Grants
The Howard County Arts Council granted subsidies in recognition of the difficult economy. Look where the funds went.
Grants designated to help area arts groups have done precisely that, say officials at the seven organizations that received money earlier this year.
This summer, the Howard County Arts Council announced it would be giving a total of $25,000 to the local arts community.The artRELIEF fund was a one-time initiative aimed to help alleviate the effects on the arts of lower ticket sales and a decline in contributions.
"After a tough fundraising year, we wanted to give the groups a little extra boost," said Coleen West, the arts council's executive director. "They were struggling, and the board came up with some additional funds beyond what we normally grant out — just to give people some hope."
The seven arts organizations that received artRELIEF grants were the Candlelight Concert Society, the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, the Columbia Orchestra, the Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts, the Columbia Festival of the Arts, the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society, and Columbia Pro Cantare. The average award was $3,500.
Here's how the money was spent:
The Candlelight Concert Society
The Columbia-based Candlelight Concert Society received $3,345 from the artRELIEF fund. Since 1972, the society has offered professional chamber music concerts, children's programs, community outreach programs, master classes, and pre-concert lectures and discussions.
Bonnie Hoff, executive director of the Candlelight Concert Society, said she was ecstatic when she heard the news.
"It was great because we had been in the negative at the end of the season," Hoff said. "We put it toward our general expenses, and it was very timely."
Chesapeake Shakespeare Company
Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, a theater group that performs classic plays and also does educational programs, received $3,605.
"It was tremendously generous at a time when so many grant makers were cutting their budgets," said Lesley Malin, managing director for the Ellicott City-based group.
The money was used to increase the group's marketing budget for summer shows. As a result, audience attendance shot up by 1,000 people, Malin said.
The Columbia Orchestra
The Columbia Orchestra received a grant of $3,924.
Those extra funds helped to "bridge the gap and get the orchestra through the remainder of the year, when donations were down significantly, according to Tedd Griepentrog, the organization's executive director.
This group provides a locally based symphony orchestra, classical music resources, and an avenue for orchestral literature and chamber music. Tedd Griepentrog, executive director of the organization, said the extra funds helped to "bridge the gap" and get the orchestra through the remainder of the year, when donations were down significantly.
Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts
"We've all felt the pinch these last two years in terms of funding cuts and loss of donations and grants," said Melissa Woodring Rosenberg, executive director for the Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts.
The 3,627 the organization received helped pay for both general expenses and to help support the center's Teen Professional Theater workshop.
"It's a wonderful but very expensive program that we run each summer for our most advanced students," Rosenberg said. "Unfortunately, we did not receive a grant that normally covers expenses for this program, so that meant budget cuts to make it happen. The artRELIEF grant was a wonderful gift."
Columbia Festival of the Arts
The Columbia Festival of the Arts, an annual festival held since 1989, received $3,015
The extra funds were "very needed and much appreciated," as giving had dropped considerably, said Nichole Hickey, the festival's executive director. The money grant helped to cover losses from dropped sponsorships, a dip in fundraising, and other diminished resources, she said.
Howard County Poetry and Literature Society
Receiving $3,802 was the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society, which has brought literary events to the community since 1974.
That money helped pay for a visit from a Pulitzer Prize nominee, Sue Ellen Thompson, who met with the county school system's English teachers on a professional development day in September.
The grant also supported production costs for the organization's television series, "The Writing Life," according to Pamela Simonson, deputy director of the poetry and literary society.
Columbia Pro Cantare
Columbia Pro Cantare, a chorus made up of more than 100 volunteer singers, received $3,582.
That money went toward day-to-day expenses, according to Frances Motyca Dawson, the group's founder and director.
The grant was a surprise, Dawson said.
"And it really was a relief, too," she said. "The money was extremely helpful for us to balance our budget and finish our season in the black."