Happy New Fiscal Year!
It has been nearly two months since our last update about MRAC programs, services and funding for our current fiscal year (July 1, 2020-June 30, 2021). Unfortunately, we are still waiting to hear about the State’s final budget and what MRAC will receive for grantmaking in this fiscal year.
In the meantime, we wanted to share what the staff and board have been planning and developing in response to the intersecting crises experienced in our region with these realities:
- changing environment and needs due to COVID-19
- significant decrease in available funds
- reduced MRAC staffing
- desire to keep some consistency for past applicants
- goal to simplify the application
- same, or increased, volume of applications
- remote panels and services
- equity advancement within our grantmaking
In response, the MRAC board approved two new programs- Flexible Support and Equity Response– and the continuation of the Next Step Fund. These will be the only grant programs offered in FY21. We have heard overwhelmingly the need for flexible funding so that groups and organizations can react, respond, re-strategize, recover and realize what is needed to make art that is relevant and to stay connected to audiences and communities.
MRAC believes in the ability to build increased connectivity and economic strength through supporting cultural and artistic expression of all social identities. We know that systems currently in place have historically marginalized and underserved people based on demographic and geographic identities. Therefore, MRAC has determined groups led by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color), led by people with disabilities, led by LGBTQIA2+ individuals (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Intersex, Asexual/Agender, Two-Spirit), and located in the greater metro are our priorities and recognize that intersectionality is the highest priority. Additionally, we recognize that the disparities for these groups are different, which requires different strategies for addressing the barriers.
To that end, the new Equity Response grant program provides up to $2,500 for targeted small-scale projects by groups and organizations with leadership made up of at least 50% individuals from BIPOC, disability, and/or LGBTQIA2+ communities. The Equity Response program will have monthly deadlines in FY21.
The other new grant program, the Flexible Support program, will be open to all eligible groups and will provide up to $15,000 in funding to help groups create access to the arts and stay connected to audiences/community in the metro.
Flexible Support takes our past programs (Arts Project Support, Arts Learning, Access Improvement, Organizational Development, Capital, Management Consulting Fund, and Management Training Fund) and rolls them into one. Rather than assuming what the specific needs might be, we created a program that support needs determined by the applicant in one application. The Flexible Support program will have 3 deadlines in FY21.
Although Flexible Support and Equity Response are new programs externally, they are the manifestation of several years of internal work and deep listening. We have shared the new program guidelines and applications with a group of past grant recipients for feedback and will be finalizing them in the coming weeks. Our goal is to announce them in their entirety with the new calendar in early August.
We hope that these programs will provide support for your goals in FY21, and we look forward to learning with you in this new fiscal year.
As always, I welcome any questions, comments and/or feedback you might have. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org