The fund has delivered more than $225,000 in grants to rural arts organizations since the Arts and Education Council formed it in partnership with Monsanto in 2007.
“We have a lot of arts organizations across our region and everybody needs funding, so having something specifically dedicated to rural populations helps us find these organizations and then fund them and partner with them,” Arts and Education Council President and CEO Cynthia Prost said.
The Council will announce the next round of grantees this summer. Recipients of the 2019-2020 grant round are Arts Rolla, Ste. Genevieve Art Guild, Steelville Arts Council, Warren County Fine Arts Council and theater troupe Clinton County Showcase in Breese.
Prost said arts organizations outside of the St. Louis urban core play a particularly important role in providing arts-education programming in schools.
“When you travel to some of these more rural schools,” she said, “they have less students there, and they really don't really have a lot of access to arts education. And [arts groups are] filling that need. They’re recognizing and filling that need.”
Clinton County Showcase received a $5,000 from the rural arts fund for its current six-show season. The all-volunteer community theater group, with an annual budget of less than $100,000, gets most of its funding from ticket sales.
“We’re not in a large-population area,” Executive Director Steve Klostermann said. “Therefore there are fewer volunteers, fewer people to participate and fewer audience members. So, that’s less box-office money coming in.”
The Arts and Education Council grant will allow Clinton County Showcase to avoid raising ticket prices this season, he said. The organization also will purchase some “sorely needed” microphones and new headsets for stage managers to communicate with crew members. New lights are a future goal.
Klostermann said that similar organizations in urban areas are better positioned to win grant funding, such as matching grants from large employers whose employees donate to nonprofits. Such funding is harder to come by in Breese, a Clinton County community of fewer than 4,500.
“The metropolitan arts organizations are going to take care of their own, and I understand that — I’m not trying to have a chip on my shoulder for that by any means — but we’re outside their scope, outside of their radius a lot of times, and the funding just isn’t available,” Klostermann said.
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