Thursday marked the fulfilment of another piece of the City of Brandon’s Roadmap for Growth strategy, when the Brandon Arts Council announced a new grant program for local artists.
As the Sun reported yesterday, the fledgling Brandon Arts Council announced that it will offer grants of up to $4,000 to local emerging or established professional artists through an annual Professional Artists Granting Program.
The arts council received about $25,000 from Brandon City Council, as allocated in last year’s budget. Brandon Arts Council chairman Michael Kim says the organization hopes to offer between $21,000 to $22,000 of that through the grant program. He also suggests it will be open to a wide variety of artistic endeavours.
“We have kept things purposefully open-ended at this point because there is a broad range of recognizable disciplines: drama, visual arts, music, writing and all the rest of it. There’s also people that like to engage in interdisciplinary art so we don’t want to discourage that.”
Of course $25,000 falls a bit short of the group’s hopes — last year the BAC president, Jan Brancewicz, suggested $72,000 was a realistic starting point. Nevertheless, it’s a start.
We believe this type of funding for local artists is a good move by the city, mainly because it’s not just good news for Brandon’s artistic community.
The Brandon Arts Council, which essentially started up in 2011, was modelled on the Manitoba and Winnipeg arts councils, both of which have made it their mission to support the arts and artists in this province.
The Manitoba Arts Council, for example, supplies hundreds of thousands of dollars in operating grants for visual arts organizations across Manitoba, including Brandon’s own Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba, which received $185,000 earlier this year. It also funds the works of Manitoba artists, writers, musicians and publishers, and invests in school art programs.
Meanwhile, the Winnipeg Arts Council provides two kinds of grants — one for up to $5,000 for mid-career and established artists and a second for up to $2,000 for emerging artists. As well, it provides substantially larger grants for arts organizations, and has routinely funded some of Winnipeg’s most notable events and venues, including the Festival du Voyageur, the Winnipeg Folk Festival, Shakespeare in the Ruins and the Manitoba Theatre for Young People.
As a result, the lives of Manitobans from all walks of life have been enriched both socially and culturally through these councils’ support for the arts.
Of course, public funds have also been doled out to questionable artistic projects in the past as well. Cash given for everything from poetry and puppet show scripts to paper sculptures and modern art have come under hostile public scrutiny over the years.
That doesn’t mean these endeavours have no purpose or value, but it can be difficult to justify spending dollars on the arts when there are other worthy needs in the community. Going forward, it will be important to find a balance between a need for more specific and localized arts funding that fits our community, and any concerns the public may have over arts funding.
We hope folks in this city will keep an open mind and let the new Brandon Arts Council find its feet over the coming years, as it helps local artists in the process.
At the same time, let’s hope those who dole out the cash on the Brandon Arts Council be judicious in their choices.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 13, 2012