Newton Cultural Council (NCC) is now accepting grant applications to fund local arts, science, and humanities projects in the city.
“These grants are extremely important because they support the local arts and culture sector in our community,” Paula Gannon, director of Newton cultural development, said. “Every year, the decisions on who to fund are made by local people.”
Grants are awarded to projects that have a public benefit, including performances, exhibits, or lectures. In the past, grants have been capped at $1,500, according to NCC’s website. NCC does not fund programs in Newton Public Schools.
Funding local projects also helps to bring Newton residents together through art, Gannon said.
The Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) provides funding to the arts community in Newton and cultural councils across Massachusetts. Gannon said Newton is fortunate that Mayor Ruthanne Fuller matches MCC’s funding in Newton every year.
As a performer or artist, Gannon said sharing work with the public is about both individuality and a source of work.
“I think, for [the artists] to be able to get back out there, it’s such a relief to them and it feels so good that they’re going to find a way to do it, and we’re very, very happy to help them and support them through funding,” Gannon said.
Applications on the MCC website opened on Sept. 1 and will close on Oct.15. This year MCC is utilizing a new online system for grant applicants. Gannon said she foresees applicants having trouble with the system, but that it will be more user friendly once they understand how to use it.
At the end of December, the council will have a list of who will receive the grants and how much money is allocated to each project, Gannon said. The applicants will hear by mid-January if they have received a grant.
Remaining at home during the pandemic, artists were afforded more time to create art and start new projects, Gannon said. Gannon predicted that this will result in a steady number of incoming applications.
There is a large diversity among applicants, Gannon said. The majority are adults, or adult organizations such as Newton Community Pride. The NCC receives a variety of applications from individuals, organizations, and even high school students from Newton, Gannon said. College students from BC are eligible to apply for a grant if their application meets all the requirements, she said.
Last year, the council approved 58 grants out of an applicant pool of 64. This year, Gannon said NCC has about $50,000 to award to artists and organizations in the community, compared with $40,000 the previous year.
NCC recently funded the public arts exhibition Newton Out Doors through the nonprofit group Newton Community Pride. In this exhibit, 25 wooden doors painted by local and regional artists have been placed around eight of Newton’s village centers.
“We help to support that program, which, again, supports all the artists being paid for this initiative, which is really important, especially coming out of COVID,” Gannon said. “Our visual arts and performing arts, and the arts sector itself, has been extremely impacted by COVID, and it’s going to take a lot to be able to get this sector, back up and running.”
One prominent grant recipient from last year is Sandeep Das, Gannon said. He is a world renowned educator and Tabla player, which is a type of Indian drum. His project involves instructional videos about rhythm and classical Indian music.
“He did a presentation and performance this year, which the Newton Cultural Council helped to fund,” Gannon said. “It was really exciting for us to be able to bring that experience to Newton and to have folks enjoy this different type of music.”
Featured Image Courtesy of Gloria Gavris