As we emerge from a year of civil and social unrest, a global pandemic, and the immense loss, pain and suffering that has gone along with it, artists and arts organizations have a daunting task ahead. As storytellers, conveners and our community’s healers, it is the Arts Council’s job to support our artists in their recovery and rebuilding of their livelihoods.
The Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo remained open through the pandemic, serving our community’s needs through funding, resource connection and an open door (although virtual) for artists to come together with other artists to talk about the challenges we faced. In 2020, we awarded over $351,000 through nine grant programs (three of them brand new), but the most immediate and needed support was our COVID-19 Bridge Fund Program. This program awarded grants to support the operational needs for our arts organizations. In all, we were able to support 27 area organizations.
In addition to funding, the Arts Council wanted to make sure that our artists and organizations were connected to each other, and to professionals that would help make some sense of how to navigate such unforeseen circumstances. If you were a member or a grant recipient, you were invited to a four-part series led by Mia Henry entitled “Where Do We Go From Here?” These workshops were a collaboration with ONEPlace @ KPL and were designed to offer insight, support and connection at a time when connection was difficult. They gave rise to a monthly virtual Artist Happy Hour, as well as a Town Hall on racism in the arts.
The funding we received from the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation gave us the footing to leverage other dollars and grant as much as we possibly could back into the community as well as allow for a continued connection with each other.
For more information, visit www.kalamazooarts.org