The Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund traditionally celebrates recent grant recipients at its annual luncheon. This year, arts fund director Lisa Cremin added a history-making announcement.
Before a crowd of 450 artists, arts leaders, arts organizations and patrons gathered at the Georgia Dome, she revealed the inauguration of a pilot Arts Capitalization program, an initiative aimed at helping organizations achieve fiscal health. The winner of a $200,000 award, the largest sum in the funds history, is the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center.
The Arts Fund will continue its current grant programs, but the new addition represents a shift in thinking on the needs of arts organizations.
“Historically, most small to midsize arts groups have very thin financial resources and little if any cushion,” Cremin says. “Our capitalization initiative advances a healthier, more sustainable model, not only for individual organizations, but for the region’s mid-size arts organizations overall.
“Being well capitalized means that an arts organization has the resources to meet its artistic mission; build reserves for stable operations; has access to cash for artistic programs in their strategic plan; pays staff leaders fair salaries; and is able to take care of facilities and fixed assets.”
The selection process was demanding. The three finalists, including Atlanta Celebrates Photography and the Horizon Theatre, were asked to develop a “thoroughly vetted, donor-ready capitalization proposal that was in line with its strategic plan and capable of sustaining a firm financial footing for the organization over time.” The fund provided consultants and coaches to help them along.
Stuart Horodner, artistic director of the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, found the endeavor invigorating. The constant feedback was invaluable, and the possibility of large infusion of cash to think not just big but deep.
“We were very invigorated by the months of planning and vetting our concept for the capitalization plan. Receiving the funding is an obvious endorsement of our efforts, and it will help ACAC continue to present ambitious and accessible programs with more solid financial systems and support .”
Praising all the finalists, Charlene Crusoe-Ingram, chair of the Arts Fund Advisory Committee, said, “What we saw confirms that great thinking happens when an arts group has the freedom to plan for a solid balance sheet.
“With the momentum that this project has started, the Arts Fund is actively encouraging other arts donors to participate and to expand this capitalization effort going forward.”
To which those involved in arts organizations, many of which are struggling to survive, can only say, “Amen.”
General Operating Support Grants
7 Stages – $44,500*
Art Papers – $45,000*
Atlanta Celebrates Photography – $30,000
Atlanta Chamber Players – $15,000
Atlanta Contemporary Art Center – $60,000
Atlanta Shakespeare Company – $45,000*
Aurora Theater – $50,000
Dad’s Garage Theatre Company – $60,000
Horizon Theatre Company – $38,000
Monroe Art Guild – $5,000
Moving in the Spirit – $35,000
Out of Hand – $12,500
True Colors Theatre Company – $60,000
Conyers-Rockdale Council for the Arts
Madison-Morgan Cultural Center
Atlanta Shakespeare Company
Resource Development Plan
Callanwolde Fine Arts Center
Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center
Human Resources Plan
Moving in the Spirit