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Applications are open for a new ‘mini grant’ program for cultural events in Greater Louisville neighborhoods

Keen Dance Theatre artist Ra’Shaun Monya Logan performs the final movement of "Sanctified."
Stephanie Wolf
Keen Dance Theatre artist Ra’Shaun Monya Logan performs the final movement of "Sanctified" at Central High School Feb. 21. 2022 during the first Arts in Neighborhoods event.

Fund for the Arts is offering small grants for people and groups in the Greater Louisville area wanting to put on cultural events in their neighborhoods.

The Community Event Mini-Grants are an extension of an initiative launched early last year called Arts in Neighborhoods. The effort provides some financial backing for local creatives wanting to engage with their communities through art.

Kate Gipson, the Fund’s director of strategic initiatives, hopes the grants can support already existing festivals and events organized locally.

“But then, also, that people who are considering a new event in a community that might not have that sort of thing, that they’re also reaching out and can see sort of a future for an event because of this,” Gipson told LPM News.

The mini grants range from $500 - $5,000, not to exceed half of the project’s budget, to cover costs associated with organizing free, in-person events around the arts. There’s also a match requirement on the award. Groups applying don’t have to be a nonprofit, nor do they have to be an arts organization. But art must be a key component of the event.

Gipson said they wanted the grant application to be “simple and direct so they didn't necessarily go only to organizations that have a long history of grant-writing.”

“Nonprofit funding, we know, has been gatekept for decades,” Gipson continued. “That has prevented true equity. It's prevented true diversity of even programming. And it's really favored organizations that already have their legs.”

The Fund is accepting applications online on a rolling basis.

The Arts in Neighborhoods initiative launched early last year with the inaugural event at Central High School in west Louisville, featuring performances and demonstrations from groups like AMPED, LaNita Rocknettes School of Dance, River City Drum Corps and West Louisville Women’s Collaborative. It was an evolution of Fund for the Arts’ annual showcase, which had been held downtown to celebrate artists from the region and launch the Fund’s capital campaign. Arts in Neighborhoods was intended as providing some seed funding to art already happening around the area.

“Yes, this is a new initiative for the Fund for the Arts… to have the support and the seed funding at the beginning is most helpful,” artistic director of LaNita Rocknettes, Harlina Trumbo, told LPM News last February ahead of the first event. “So we are excited about it, but it is something that is not totally brand new to what we’re doing in west Louisville.”

Artists and arts groups in the South End organized an “art crawl” in April as part of the new series. And Shively organizers put on a “Unity in the Community” event, featuring food trucks, live entertainment and vendors in May.

As a part of Arts in Neighborhoods, the Fund also hosted the Local Performance Village at St. James Court Art Show.

Keen Dance Theatre artistic director John Keen and KDT dancers participated in the Central High School event, as well as the Local Performance Village. He felt those were great opportunities in showing Louisville that art doesn’t happen just downtown, but all over the city.

“I do feel like it was successful in that part, but I believe there's still more to be done,” he said, adding that bringing awareness of how robust the Greater Louisville art scene is, beyond big institutions, is a work in progress.

Keen said it takes time and resources to apply for grants, two things some artists and arts organizations are short on. So he’s grateful to see any efforts to make the grant-making process more accessible. And while the grants are small, Keen said everything helps.

“Those grants can subsidize [the cost of] rehearsal space, we have costumes we need to buy, we have lighting designers that we need to pay, we have to pay for the venue where we're going to perform," Keen said.

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