City council seeks new method to distribute performing arts grants


By Karen Kennedy

The city council wants to lay the groundwork for the establishment of a new performing arts council, which would become the governing body from which performing arts groups would receive city grants.

The measure was introduced at the Sept. 3 council meeting and is sponsored by councilors Eric Seidensticker, Rick Sharp and Luci Snyder.

“Politics and personalities have no place in the arts,” said Snyder, referring to the drawn-out process by which local arts groups received their 2013 funds.

“Indianapolis has an arts council and it makes sense for us to do the same,” she said.

The proposal’s sponsors envision the Center for the Performing Arts board(Karen will get back to us as to whether it’s the board or CEO) becoming the governing body of the performing arts council. The new entity would be completely separate from the existing Carmel Arts Council, which focuses primarily on visual arts.

“The city council does not have the background or the knowledge to decide which organizations need funds, and the process by which the arts fund was distributed this year was messy to say the least,” Snyder said. “The Center for the Performing Arts has a couple of years under its belt now, and we need to make use of them. We need to strengthen their position and let them be perceived as a presence in the arts world. They are the ones who understand what it takes to run an arts organization.”

What has not yet been determined is how the members of the performing arts council would be selected. The only caveat that has been established so far is that they will all have to be residents of Carmel.

The overall budget for arts funding will still be determined as a percentage of the city’s overall budget; traditionally it has been one percent, which translated to about $700,000 in the 2013 budget.

But the proposed plan might not circumvent the root of the problem with this year’s arts funds distribution. The delay in funding was not caused by disagreement over the amount each arts organization would receive, but by the city council wanting clarification over specific items in the city’s budget in order to feel confident that the funds were actually there to be disbursed.

“If the council does not want to be involved in this process, then maybe we should go back to how we used to do it,” Mayor Jim Brainard said. “We used to have a dollar amount that was appropriated by the council, and then a mayoral-appointed advisory distributed the funds, and we typically had it done by April. I believe this proposed process would place an unfair burden on the Center for the Performing Arts.”




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