Groups meeting to consider feasibility of Arts Council
As Tecumseh is becoming known for its growing arts community, whether through sculpture initiatives, performance arts or events featuring individual artists, funding for projects is not always easy to come by in today’s economy.
Various area arts groups have agreed to come together recently to discuss the feasibility of forming an Arts Council, which is used in many communities to collectively organize and collaborate with pooled resources.
One of the theories behind such a group, according to Tecumseh City Manager Kevin Welch, who has offered his and the city’s expertise to foster some discussions on the possibility, is a unified approach when seeking funding from foundations or other grant sources.
“The theory is if a lot of groups join forces, perhaps they might better be able to convince donors to donate funds toward an Arts Council rather than to be continually approached by various groups or individuals,” Welch said. This would apply to not only approaching foundations, but state and federal grant funding opportunities.
“It’s not a new concept by any means,” said Welch, who added that some of the benefits of an Arts Council would be the ability of a larger group to share resources and rely on each other for expertise that one or more may not have. Another benefit is that an Arts Council might be better equipped to manage programs, projects and other events.
“One of the things that helped trigger the discussion was our continuing struggle with the TCA (Tecumseh Center for the Arts)” said Welch. The TCA has been drawing funding from the city’s General Fund as its endowment shrinks, while also cutting back on its performance season. “Part of the discussion is could we somehow coordinate our efforts in the community into one organization that would include the TCA, which could also benefit from that?” he said.
There have only been a few discussions so far, as Welch emphasizes there have been no changes proposed, and no commitment at this point.
“We need to explore it so everybody understands what it could like and address concerns,” he said. “We’re looking at other communities who have formed Arts Councils and in some communities it has worked and in others, it has not. No two communities are alike.”
Welch said disadvantages of forming an Arts Council for some people or groups could include limitations on individual decision-making and a lack of control.
“Rightly so, there are concerns in these areas,” said Welch. He added, however, that the pros could outweigh the cons, with such possibilities as having greater success as a Council in obtaining funding to be shared among the groups.
“The discussions we’ve had so far have not committed any group to any specific decisions or timelines,” said Welch. “I’m not the decision-maker, nor is the city; we’ve just asked the groups to meet and talk and everybody has agreed to at least discuss it.”
He said one thing the groups do agree on is that art, in any format, is important to the community and contributes significantly to the quality of life in the community that it thrives in.