Les Arts Culturels continues to revise artistic contracts financed by the hotel tax

Photo by ATXN. Artwork: A Lord of the Plains by Jeff Grauzer, Courtney Bee Peterson and Michael Mendoza

Thursday, June 2, 2022 by Chad Swiatecki

The city is moving forward with further revisions to its process for awarding cultural arts funding contracts, with the rollout of the first phase of a three-tier pilot program set to take place in October.

Cultural arts staff members provided an update to the city council’s audit and finance committee last week on their progress in the multi-year process of restructuring the way contracts are awarded. The current round of changes began in 2019 to emphasize equity and improve the viability of new and niche arts groups that had traditionally received little – if any – arts funding from the city ​​of hotel occupancy tax revenue.

In her presentationcultural arts division manager Meghan Wells says the focus on fairness is weighed against the city’s legal department’s growing concerns about the extent to which race can be taken into account in evaluating applicants for city funding or other resources.

“We understand the importance of intersectionality and how we can reach out to other historically marginalized communities such as LGBTQ and disabled communities,” she said. “We are also mitigating concerns from the legal department and the board about the legal risk of leading with racial equity. It was a difficult balance.

The roughly $6.6 million in the next batch of cultural arts contracts will be split into three rounds of funding for recipients of different sizes and goals.

The Nexus Group seeks to encourage new and emerging applicants, with 100 grants of $5,000 divided into two rounds of 50 grants each. The Elevate Group targets creative and administrative needs that amplify equitable and inclusive programming, with $4 million in funding split into approximately 100 grants of $10,000 to $75,000, with different guidelines for private or nonprofit applicants lucrative. The Thrive Group aims to support and grow deeply rooted arts organizations that reflect the city’s diversity, with $3 million available for 35 two-year contracts worth $80,000 to $150,000.

The proposed guidelines may be subject to slight revisions while the Arts Commission continues its community feedback process before taking a final vote to support the new framework in the coming months.

Of the three fundraising groups, Thrive is slated to launch in October, with Elevate and Nexus launching in fiscal 2023 along with the Live Music Fund which also uses hotel tax revenue and is overseen by the Music and Entertainment division.

Board member Vanessa Fuentes commended the work done by staff, the Arts Commission and other stakeholders over the years to revise the funding process. Responding to a comment from Wells that the program would no longer fund the vast majority of applicants, she expressed concern about the message that should be sent to the community about the changes.

“You mentioned that this new framework would not fund the 99% of contractors (applications) that had already received some funding, and it looks like we would have the ability to award at least 235 different contracts,” she said. declared. “I just want to be at the community level…what percentage would receive funding with these changes?”

Laura Odegaard, cultural arts program manager, said in recent years the city had received around 600 applications from entrepreneurs seeking funding, although recent outreach to arts groups to award Covid relief prizes -19 was likely to lead to increased interest in municipal contracts.

“The quick calculation is 40% instead of 99% of applicants, but only existing former entrepreneurs show up to apply. With a lot of the outreach staff doing…I would expect that we would have more applicants for these pilot programs than we have had in the past.

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