The Arlington Arts Council (AAC) is a local council of the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC), and consists of volunteers appointed by the Arlington Board of Selectmen for three-year terms. Its main function is to support and encourage the arts, humanities, and interpretive sciences by dispersing funds to deserving applicants. The majority of funds awarded by the AAC are received from the state through the MCC and the Council raises the remaining funds. The AAC meets once a month at a public place, generally at either the Jefferson Cutter
House or the Robbins Library, and all meetings (except for voting meetings) are open to the public.
Every October, the AAC accepts grant applications. The deadline is preceded by several announcements in the Arlington Advocate, as well as by a publicized coaching session for those seeking help in completing their applications. Two presentation evenings are then held, where applicants can elaborate on their projects. These presentations are a valuable way for applicants to bring their projects to life and for council members to get a better idea of the proposed work. Soon thereafter, the Council holds a voting meeting to decide which applications will be funded. Applicants not receiving funds are notified in November, and those receiving funds are apprised of the amount by the end of December (applicants may receive full or partial funding).
In our Fiscal Year 2003 grant cycle, twenty-eight applications were received from schools, individual artists, and cultural groups. We held our two presentation meetings, and then considered applications in a closed meeting. Ten awards were made for a total of $10,610 (an MCC award of $7,910 plus take-back amounts from previous years). Difficult choices had to be made in attempting to balance the needs of various segments of Arlington’s population while supporting projects of merit. This year was made particularly difficult, with a 62% cut in MCC funds due to the state budget shortfall.
The awards for this year are shown in the following chart.
Though much of the Arts Council’s activity is concentrated from October through November, the Council participated in other activities throughout the year. In the spring, the Council held a Community Input Meeting in the Robbins Library Community Room, inviting members of various groups, boards, schools, and organizations in the Town. An MCC representative was also present to provide information and answers to questions. Through a focus-group style meeting, we were able to focus our priorities for the grant year on projects that emphasized collaboration and communication. In June, the Arts Council presented its annual Gideon Cohen Award, given each year to an outstanding fine arts student at Arlington High School. This year, the award was split between two recipients.
The Arts Council had a booth at Arlington’s Town Day to encourage awareness of the Council and its mission. This year, we were pleased to be able to offer “Art At Your Feet”, a chalk-art contest that was held on Lampson Way. Cash prizes were given to first-place winners in the under 12, 12-19, and adult categories; ribbons and certificates were given to other winners. About 30 artists of all ages participated. We hope to hold a similar event in 2003.
The MCC has provided the Arlington Arts Council with an e-mail address at which members of the council can be reached: firstname.lastname@example.org.