Local arts groups win state grants

The Artworks Cultural Center in Big Rapids is pictured Tuesday. Artworks was recently awarded more than $24,000 in grant funding from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. (Pioneer photo/Tim Rath)

BIG RAPIDS — Two local groups will receive tens of thousands of dollars in grant funding from a state-level agency in support of arts programs.

The Tuba Bach Chamber Music Festival and Artworks Cultural Center, both based in Big Rapids, were among the more than 500 recipients from 59 of Michigan’s 83 counties to win awards from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA), the group announced last week.

Artworks was the biggest winner, scooping up one award for $16,250 and another for $8,059. Executive Director Lynne Scheible said the larger of the two grants will go toward operations at the arts and cultural center next year, while the smaller one is earmarked for capital projects.

“What MCACA has said is, ‘We understand it takes money to run your organization, so you decide where you spend this. If you share your work and value, we’ll support you at different levels.’ That’s significant, because it lets you put that money to whatever you feel is needed,” Scheible said.

Specifically, she said, Artworks has planned to use the capital projects funds on a new paint job for the exterior of the building, located at 106 N. Michigan Ave., as well as new signage. Those projects are expected to take place next summer, she added.

The larger grant will cover about 5 percent of Artworks’ total budget for the year.
Artworks is a multi-time recipient of MCACA grant awards, Scheible said, going back several years. A capital projects award won by the group last year helped pay for a new roof at the facility.

“It’s a significant grant for a small arts organization like ourselves to be able to do our mission. I think because we’ve been around for 18 years, we’re showing more credibility in our work and ability to get things done. I think MCACA looks at that when they decide who to award grants to,” she said.

Scheible credited Susan Wenzlick, who wrote the grant on behalf of Artworks but no longer works for the organization.

“She’s been instrumental over the years in helping us grow. She’s helped us find grants, receive funding and tell our story. We appreciate that,” she said.

Tuba Bach, a multi-concert series now in its 13th year, won a grant for $16,250, which founder and lead organizer Ed Mallett said will go toward operations.

Mallett said this is the third straight year Tuba Bach has received a MCACA grant. He estimated the grant represents about 10 percent of Tuba Bach’s overall budget.

“(Operational costs) are one of the big challenges. We all have them, but so many of the grants are very specific in what they can go toward. At the same time, we have ordinary bills to pay. So, this will help us out greatly, in a number of ways,” Mallett said.

Mallett’s wife Adriana wrote the grant on behalf of Tuba Bach.

“It’s a huge pile of paperwork — gathering data about Mecosta County and where we are, all of the demographics and events, and she does a great job pulling it all together,” Mallett said.

According to a press release from MCACA, awards were based on a peer review process, which was judged in a public forum. Recommendations from 26 panels were made to the Michigan Governor’s Council, which determined final approval.

Tuba Bach kicked off its New World Exploration concert series Saturday night with a concert featuring, from left, pianist Alvin Waddles, clarinet player Doreen Ketchens and tuba player Ed Mallett. Tuba Bach received more than $16,000 in grant funding from a state-level agency last week. (Pioneer photo/Brandon Fountain)

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