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Plant City Observer Thursday, Jul. 5, 2018 4 months ago

New program brings funding to the arts

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Hillsborough County is increasing its support for the arts with its new Community Arts Impact Grant Program, which makes funding options more accessible for local organizations.
by: Breanne Williams Staff Writer

Thanks to Hillsborough County’s new Community Arts Impact Grant Program, local organizations have the chance to acquire funding to bring the arts and cultural opportunities to their community.

The new program was created in response to the Cultural Development Grant Program, which has been in existence for decades. Traditionally the majority of those funds went toward the larger organizations in Tampa, according to Terri Simmons, the director of programs and communications for the Arts Council of Hillsborough County. Smaller groups struggled to meet the requirements for funding against other applicants like the Tampa Theatre and the Tampa Metropolitan Youth Orchestra.

“Hillsborough County felt like it was important to have a program that would help small organizations who might be completely volunteer or maybe have never applied for a grant before, a program that would help them be able to learn to develop those skills that have access to funds that would enable them to continue or create art programs in their various neighborhoods,” Simmons said.

Last year a small organization that was mainly volunteer-run applied through the other grant program to get aid. Simmons said they were doing “some really wonderful work,” but the application ended up being more of a burden on the group as they struggled to acquire all of the paperwork needed to become eligible for funding. They ended up not making the cut and Simmons said several other groups shared similar stories, leading to the creation of CAIG.

The program is available for any 501(c)(3) organization that is apolitical and non-ideological. Interested parties should apply before 4 p.m. July 13 and “community impact through arts and cultural programming must be the primary focus of the proposed project.” The project in question also needs to take place between November 1, 2018 and September 15, 2019.

Simmons said there is no specific type of project that must be submitted and the group is opening it up to 501(c)(3) organizations in hope of seeing a wide range of submissions. It does not have to be a cultural or art group that applies. It could potentially even be a rotary club or a boys and girls club that wants to do a mural or some type of community project.

“The projects are probably being created in response to a community’s unique needs,” Simmons said. “It could be a festival or a cultural celebration, an art show, a mural, a community effort to create some type of art. We’re really hoping to see a wide range.”

On June 19 a workshop was held at the 1914 High School Community Center to introduce the new initiative to the Plant City community. Those in attendance were walked through the application process, what the scoring process was like and discussed details like how the grant works and what eligible expenses would be under the funding.

After the workshop, Simmons said she has seen several organizations appear on the website indicating they are submitting their applications. It’s a rather simple process, but Simmons said she is more than willing to answer questions or discuss the details with any interested party. They should simply give her office a call at 813-276-8250. Because of the looming deadline, she recommends anyone interested begin applying immediately.

For more information on the application process and eligibility visit tampaarts.org.

“The arts really connect us, they connect us to each other, they connect organizations to people in a community and they bring people together,” Simmons said. “They very often have extremely positive effects, not only in an intermediate fashion but in a long-term sense as well. That creates a higher quality of life. It enhances understanding of different cultures, of different people with each other and allows people to come together and collaborate and really come up with things that are even more positive.”

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