CULTURE BOOST: Indy arts commission awards grants to local nonprofits


Artwork by children adorn the window area of the Twenty North Gallery. Hancock County Arts, which runs the downtown Greenfield gallery, was among 414 nonprofits in the state to recently win grants from the Indiana Arts Commission.

HANCOCK COUNTY — The Hancock County Children’s Choir is singing the praises of the Indiana Arts Commission.

The choir — along with the Hancock County Arts council — were among 414 nonprofits throughout the state to win a collective $3.4 million in grants from the arts commission.

The grants were announced Thursday, July 6, but recipients had received advance notice of the good news.

“It’s absolutely wonderful news,” said Hancock County Arts president Alice Hedden.

The local arts council was awarded $7,684.

The Hancock County Children’s Choir received $11,319.

Hedden said the arts council has an extensive list of things it hopes to accomplish with the money, including extensive advertising for next year’s 25th anniversary of the Will Vawter exhibition.

“It’s our silver anniversary, so we’ll have to have a big production for that,” said Hedden, who said next year’s exhibit will be doubled from one month to two.

Updating the lighting and interior of the Twenty North Gallery is also on the list, including making the bathroom wheelchair accessible.

Hedden is excited about the possibilities.

“We haven’t really had the chance to process all the things we can do. It will make such a tremendous difference,” she said.

Lisa Heady, executive director of the Hancock County Children’s Choir, feels the same way.

“We are absolutely thrilled. We could not make it without the generous support we get from (the Indiana Arts Commission) and other like organizations,” she said.

“We count on outside funding to take care of about 60% of the cost of our programming, and we are motivated to not ever turn a child away due to finances,” said Heady, “so we really rely on that outside funding to pay for venues and music and all the things that keep us running.”

The Indiana Arts Commission shared that the grants are intended to “strengthen communities through art and creativity.”

Grants totalling $3,431,351 were awarded to nonprofits in 75 of Indiana’s 92 counties.

The commission approved the funding during its June 9 quarterly business meeting. Applications were reviewed by 146 panelists from around the state and country with expertise in the arts, community development and nonprofit management.

“The Commission is excited and honored to invest in Hoosier communities, supporting organizations that are doing exceptional creative work to make Indiana a great place to live,” said Anne Penny Valentine, chair of the Indiana Arts Commission.

Miah Michaelsen, the arts commission’s executive director, echoed that sentiment.

“Art and creativity strengthen the fabric of Indiana’s communities. In every corner of our state, public funding for arts and creativity continually proves to be a high-return investment that improves the quality of life of Hoosiers and drives economic development,” she said.

The arts commission reported that changes to this year’s grant program resulted in increased award sizes statewide.

Part of the awards were funded through the Arts Trust, which is supported by the sale of Celebrate the Arts license plates through the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

Changes were also made to open the grants up to smaller and emerging arts organizations, which Hedden said made Hancock County Arts eligible.

“That was a big deal over the last year. It opens up so many more possibilities for us,” she said.

“This year is our time to redo our strategic plan, which is in the works for this fall, so knowing that we can have more money available is really going to make a big difference.”