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ArtsChat Ohio: Introducing the Arts Resiliency Initiative

ArtsChat Ohio is an audio blog bringing you the latest news and updates from Ohio Arts Council staff members. These conversations are recorded to be enjoyed using the audio player below. A transcript and show notes are also included. 


 

Transcript 
Audio transcript edited for clarity.

LET'S GET STARTED (Begins at 0:00)

DONNA: Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of ArtsChat, the Ohio Arts Council’s audio blog that brings you the latest news and updates from the Ohio Arts Council’s staff. I’m Donna Collins, the executive director of the Ohio Arts Council. And I’m joined today by a great colleague.

DAN: Thanks, Donna. I’m Dan Katona, deputy director at the Ohio Arts Council. And today, Donna and I are going to talk about the launch of the brand-new Arts Resiliency Initiative, which is going to be providing two types of one-time grant support for nonprofit organizations that are still digging out from the effects of the pandemic.

It’s one initiative, but it has two separate types of grant awards for two different types of organizations, so we want to talk a bit about that today and hopefully give folks a good introduction to what will be available coming up this fall.

DONNA: Thanks, Dan. So, first let’s talk about why. Why now? Why is it time for the Arts Resiliency Initiative? First off, just a bit of history:

When the pandemic hit last spring, the OAC took several actions. We started doing early Final Report payments to existing grantees; new, proactive partial payments last summer that injected millions of dollars into Ohio’s economy. That would otherwise have been waiting awhile for folks to request those dollars, but we made it more flexible. We also made the reporting requirements more flexible, and so on.

We also provided new awards in Ohio to ease the financial distress that COVID-19 brought about. There was more than $500,000 in CARES funding from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) that helped lessen the blow when our budget was cut slightly.

Then there was the big $20 million in CARES Act funding from the State of Ohio that helped hundreds of arts organizations all over our state, from the largest to many with budgets under $50,000.

And then this year there was American Rescue Plan funding from the NEA again, which added to awards we made this summer. Which, by the way, were made using an OAC budget from the Ohio governor and Ohio Legislature that was the largest in the agency’s history—a $40-million budget for the Ohio Arts Council over two fiscal years.

So, grant awards were larger across all programs—for returning grantees, for new grantees, in arts learning, for operating support, for project support. Lots of investment everywhere. And once again, we’ve made grants in each and every one of Ohio’s 88 counties.

And this is really amazing: Of the more than 400 grants awarded this summer that weren’t operating support, a full 30 percent of our applicants were new. We weren’t in our cars, we weren’t out driving around, we weren’t out giving commercials for the arts council, but even with everything else going on, with teleworking and restrictions and everything, the grant programs that were open to new applicants attracted new applicants—and funded new applicants.

So, we’ve done a lot because our constituents have stayed the course and used their powers of innovation and leadership to succeed even during a pandemic.

Dan, what am I missing?

DAN: It has been a ton. It’s been a lot of great work and a lot of big investments, you’re right. But even with all that support, some organizations have been missed, at least in terms of receiving public funding in response to COVID-19. And so, we think that this is giving us the opportunity to do even more. So, that brings us to the Arts Resiliency Initiative.

The Arts Resiliency Initiative will do two things: 

  1. It will reach organizations employing Ohio artists working in communities that are hungry for additional funds to accelerate their recovery with new work.
  2. It will reach organizations that haven’t been helped yet by any of these efforts.

So, let’s talk about each part of the program for a minute.
 

COMMUNITY PROJECT AWARDS (Begins at 4:21)

DAN: I’ll start with those organizations employing Ohio artists to work in their communities. The awards made in that part of the Initiative are called the Community Project Awards. So, I’ll walk through a few things.

The first thing to know: These are open to current grantees. So, if you’re already a grantee of ours in Sustainability or Arts Access, you can apply for this.

You can’t double-dip in the sense that we can’t  fund you twice for the same thing, but you’ll be eligible.

Community Project Awards are for projects where Ohio artists are being employed to complete a community-focused project. So, something new that was planned with the community. We’ll share some examples in a minute, but for the moment, that’s the big thing: community involvement and Ohio artists.

Awards will be between $10,000 and $15,000, and there is no match required, but all OAC funds must be used for artist fees. So, that means our funding goes out to the organization to pay artists, and in turn the organization then provides whatever else the project requires. So, supplies, equipment, planning costs, obviously things like staff time or administrative costs, maybe marketing costs or things like that. Those serve as the match, depending on the project. But the award itself has no specific match requirement.

The application process looks a little different than our usual process. These awards are run through an LOI process—a Letter of Interest—to streamline the administrative part of the process. So, to start the application off, all you’ll do is complete a short web form and attach a quick one-page overview of the project you’re planning—that’s your Letter of Interest—and that’s easy. So, no logging into anything, no support materials.

But you’ll provide some basic information, though. A summary of the project, how the community was involved in planning it, you’ll probably want to list the artist or artists leading the work (unless you don’t have them lined up yet, which is OK!) And you’ll want to provide a total estimated cost of the project.

Then, the LOI then gets reviewed. We’ll put together a list of finalists, and those folks will be invited to submit their full application through the online ARTIE system. And then from there we’ll determine grantees and award amounts.

In terms of timing, this moves pretty fast. These awards support work happening in the first half of 2022—as early as January 1—and as late as June 30, the end of our fiscal year. We’ll pay 75 percent of the award up front and the remaining 25 percent at the end when you turn in your Final Report. So, there are six months to do the work and expend funds.

Again, these move pretty fast. The deadline is pretty soon: It’s November 1 for those LOIs. So, from today, you’ve got just over a month to write that one-page overview of the project. We’ll turn them around quickly; by November 5, we’ll have invitations out to get those full ARTIE applications in, which will be due by December 3. And then finalists will have a couple weeks more, until December 15, when we’ll announce those award winners. So, the key deadline is November 1, for that LOI to start the process, and then we’ll go from there.

So, Donna, what types of projects does this make you think of? What kinds of projects can you picture being funded here?

DONNA: I have so many ideas! That’s always the problem, right? When you go out and you meet with artists and organizations, there’s just so many possibilities.

Maybe it’s a new piece of public art. Maybe it’s building on the outstanding public art we see in communities across the state as well. It could be a newly commissioned work in music or dance composition, where your grant funds will pay a composer or a choreographer. It could be something directly tied to the pandemic, like the creation of an exhibition of photographs.

Oh, I thought of this while you were talking, Dan: What if it was a traditional storyteller preserving oral histories of life during the pandemic for the benefit of future generations? And so many other things.

The best part for me is that the project must be led by a professional Ohio artist or a team of artists from Ohio. And it has to involve the community in its planning and involvement. This isn’t a program for just an individual artist doing a singular project on their own. It’s really about collaboration. And the sky’s the limit.

Okay, Dan. Let’s see if I have this right. This could be a project that an organization is already planning, maybe something they’ve already started thinking about. It just can’t be something they’ve already been awarded OAC funds for directly, right?

DAN: Right. Exactly. So, we would love to have folks tell us about projects they already have in the works that just need some extra support to get off the ground. And our sense is that there are a ton of Ohio artists, some great folks, ready to do this work. So, we’re excited to see some of those ideas that you talked about coming to life and some things in place that will enhance communities for many, many years with this special initiative funding.

DONNA: Great! So, that was the Community Project Awards. Let’s turn our attention to the other part of the Arts Resiliency Initiative: the General Operating Awards.


GENERAL OPERATING AWARDS (Begins at 9:22)

DAN: Yes, perfect. Thanks, Donna. So, the General Operating Awards are the other type of awards underneath the initiative. So, first off, compared to the first group, these are pretty straightforward awards to explain: They’re general operating awards, meaning they can be used for an organization’s day-to-day expenses.

But what’s important and a little bit different is who is eligible for them. So, to be eligible for our General Operating Awards, you need to be a nonprofit organization based in Ohio, like all OAC awards. But you have to be someone who is new to the Ohio Arts Council in the sense that you’re not currently being funded by the agency for this work. So, these are awards only for organizations who are not current grantees in any of our main operating or project support programs—with a couple of exceptions—and also who are not or were not recipients of other public-sector COVID-19 relief at the state or federal level.

So, this means to be eligible for a General Operating Award under the initiative, your organization must not have received CARES Act funding from the OAC or Arts Midwest or the NEA; you did not receive a Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, also known as Save Our Stages; etc.

So, it’s ok if you received things like PPP or unemployment assistance or other loans. But the idea here is that this is only for organizations whose programming we’re not currently funding.

A couple of exceptions I mentioned: If your organization is currently receiving Capacity Building funding or Fund Every County funding, you may still want to look into this program. You may still be able to apply because those aren’t programming funds. But in general, if you have OAC funding coming in for your operations or projects this fiscal year, this isn’t the program for you. We’re already funding that work.

DONNA: Great. So, our hope is to get public support out to as many new grantees as we can. I’m pretty excited about that. You know, Dan, we love meeting new people and learning about new organizations. And we often find that there’s opportunity to invest where we didn’t invest before. We want folks to be part of the OAC family. We want to be in every county, in urban areas, in rural areas, in all corners of the state. Our Fund Every County initiative has been a huge success, but we know there are more organizations out there who could really benefit from these funds.

DAN: Exactly. That’s it, exactly. So, a few more details about this part of the initiative I should mention.

First of all, award amounts. These are awards of either $2,000, $3,000, or $5,000, given out depending on each applicant’s annual budget size. Again, there is no match required.

In terms of timing, these awards are essentially first-come, first-served when the program opens on October 18. So, they’ll run until funds are exhausted. We just ask for a two-week grace period between the time of application and the first funded activities. So, two weeks from October 18 means that November 1 is the earliest that activities can begin, and they can take place throughout the remainder of the fiscal year, so until June 30, 2022.

Like the awards we mentioned earlier, we’ll once again pay out 75 percent of the grant as it’s awarded, and the remainder at the end.

And in terms of the application process, again, pretty straightforward. You’ll log into ARTIE, which is our online grant system—or create a profile, if you’re new to ARTIE, since you may be entirely new to the agency. You’ll get access to the form, which is short. You’ll tell us about the organization, tell us about your work, and click ‘Submit.’

So, no LOI, nothing like that. We’ll process them on a rolling basis, we’ll get in touch with you if we have questions or if any information is missing, and go from there. It’s pretty easy.
 

FINAL THOUGHTS (Begins at 12:48)

DONNA: Thanks, Dan. Well, it’s time for us to wrap up. So, let me share with all of you where you can find more information.

The Ohio Arts Council’s website is at oac.ohio.gov. There, you’ll have a full overview of both parts of the Arts Resiliency Initiative. Just go over to the “Resources” tab and then down to “Current Initiatives.” You’ll find everything we’ve mentioned here, plus more reminders about the process, and who to contact if you have questions along the way.

We’re really excited about these initiatives. We can’t wait to see even more projects started across the state, with more artists employed, and of course, we’re excited to have a chance to bring new organizations into the fold and introduce them to the Ohio Arts Council. This will be a great introduction to the agency for everyone, and then you’ll all have an easier time navigating ARTIE and our regular programs when those deadlines come next spring. And we’ll encourage everyone to stick with us and become regular grantees.

We’re hearing good things and seeing some encouraging data, but the pandemic recovery isn’t over yet. And we know there’s still work to do. But we hope the Arts Resiliency Initiative will help, and we hope to see lots of great applications soon. We want to start making those awards and getting funding out the door.

Thanks for listening, and stay tuned for the next edition of ArtsChat Ohio.


Show Notes

Arts Resiliency Initiative: oac.ohio.gov/Resources/Current-Initiatives
National Endowment for the Arts: arts.gov
Ohio Arts Council Awards $20 Million in CARES Act Economic Relief for the Arts: oac.ohio.gov/News-Events/ArtsOhio-Blog/ohio-arts-council-awards-20-million-in-cares-act-economic-relief-for-the-arts
Community Project Awards - Letter of Interest Form: app.smartsheet.com/b/form/c34787a6281b4606a0fd9f414b7d720a
Arts Midwest: artsmidwest.org
Fund Every County Initiative: oac.ohio.gov/Resources/Current-Initiatives
Ohio Arts Council Website: oac.ohio.gov
 

ABOUT THE OHIO ARTS COUNCIL
The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at oac.ohio.gov.

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