Tecumseh receives MCACA grants for arts programs

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The downtown sculpture, “Homer Says, Not Today,” is part of the current Art Trail Tecumseh. Photo by Mickey Alvarado.

The Tecumseh Center for the Arts (TCA) and the City of Tecumseh Downtown Development Authority (DDA) each received sizable grant awards on Friday, Dec. 13, from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA).
The TCA was awarded $21,250, and the DDA will receive $8,500, both for arts programs in the city.

“The funding is certainly welcome from a financial perspective,” said Tecumseh City Manager Kevin Welch. He credits department heads Shelley Lim, Director of Cultural and Leisure Services, and Paula Holtz, Economic Development Director, with obtaining the funding. “The programs themselves are worthy of funding, but both Paula and Shelley must have done an excellent job in the application process to get that high level of an award.”

The MCACA adjudicates grant applications using a peer review process that is open to the public for observation, in person and online. The group held 20 separate panels and used the services of 98 professionals to determine eligibility for grant awards this year.

“MCACA received 476 grant applications for this fiscal year,” said John Bracey, Executive Director of MCACA. “Although we were only able to make 384 awards, I am truly gratified to see these grants go to so many communities. They provide access to arts and cultural programming in places and to people that may not have access without the work of their local arts and cultural organizations. I firmly believe that access to the programs and projects of our state’s many arts and cultural organizations makes communities more welcoming and more vibrant places to live, our state a more attractive place for businesses to locate and provides our citizens with an amazing quality of life.”

Grants were approved in 52 of Michigan’s counties, with $7.6 million in total awards.

Lim said once eligibility was determined, with the TCA eligible for programming funds this year, but not operational funding, applicants received a score based on the panel’s decision regarding certain criteria.

“First, they want to make sure your project meets the parameters, and there is artistic and cultural merit. They want to know that what you’re offering will, in their opinion, benefit the community and what impact it may have,” said Lim. “They also want to be sure an organization is able to implement programs and that the money will be properly allocated and wisely spent. They’re also interested in the management of the applying organization.”

Lim said the TCA’s application scored between 90 and 95 percent, so was able to obtain funding for $21,250 of the $25,000 that had been requested. In the past, the TCA was awarded about $12,000.

“We’re very excited about that,” she said. The funds will be used to support the TCA’s remaining shows for the 2014 season, which will include the January 18 Cabin Fever Film Fest, Lightwire Theater’s DINO Light performance on February 15, the TCA’s Junk to Funk event April 10, and The Irish Rovers farewell tour on March 2.

“It will also support our TCA Big Band VocalAires spring concert in May and help support our summer Black Box concert series in June, July and August,” Lim said.

The TCA was working with a budget of $51,780 for performances through the summer, and the award will take care of a good portion of that. The Irish Rovers, popular in Tecumseh, costs approximately $9,800 to bring in, and the nationally recognized Lightwire performance costs $4,800.

“Without this support, our season would have definitely been impacted,” said Lim. “In all honesty we likely wouldn’t have been able to present everything that we had scheduled. So this is exciting news for us.”

The DDA’s funding will go toward supporting the city’s continued Art Trail, which has previously showcased sculptures and will be adding new 2D art panels on the side of Boulevard Market in 2014. While the art program has received MCACA funding in the past, this is the highest award it’s been allocated.

“We’re thrilled about it,” said Holtz. The Art Trail also receives funding from The Sage Foundation and the DDA contributes a monetary portion annually, she added.

Holtz wasn’t sure what captured the panel’s attention about the project, but thought the planned expansion of the program may have been one factor. A committee was scheduled to meet on Wednesday, Dec. 18 to begin to narrow the field for the 2D art panels.

“They definitely seem to like our sculpture program,” said Holtz. “I think they may like the fact that we rotate the art and that we incorporate Michigan artists like we have been doing. I also believe the organization has received a little more funding in recent years and that may have played a role in making them more generous in their awards.”

Tecumseh musicians, River Raisin Ragtime Revue, also received funding at $4,675. Other county organizations that received funding were: Croswell Opera House and Fine Arts Association, $14,000; Lenawee Community Foundation, $12,600; and Lenawee Symphony Orchestra Society, with awards of $17,000 and $3,060.




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