Community Editorials

Guest editorial: Adding context about Arts Commission deliberations

Posted on April 3rd, 2023 By: Lynn Stevenson

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In response to “Spring Market planned for mid-May near Civic Center” (March 28, 2023):

Your article proclaimed that the Gig Harbor Arts Commission “granted nothing” to the Local Makers Festival and I’d like to help explain why that was the case. I am not speaking on behalf of the arts commission, but rather reporting my own experience and opinions as a former commissioner.

When reviewing grant applications, commissioners are charged with distributing taxpayers’ money and they take that responsibility very seriously. As such, a primary goal is to help fund as many of the proposed events as possible. This year, the budget was $35,000 and there were 19 applications, asking for a total of over $84,000.

Typically, grant awards range between $1,000 and $5,000. Local Makers LLC requested $14,000, and it was difficult to justify allocating 40% of the budget to a single applicant.

The article mentioned some of the concerns, but another important factor, which was not reported, related to one of the application questions: If the project can still be done without City funding, show how the requested funds will improve the project, even if partially funded.The answer to this question indicated that, without funding from the city, the festival “would not come to fruition” as it was proposed. In other words: If we did not fund the entire $14,000, or something close to it, the event was not likely to happen in the way it was presented.

The arts commission was not informed that the Makers’ project was of particular importance to the City. So it came as a surprise that, after 4.5-hours of interviewing applicants and deliberating over equitable fund distribution, “the city subsequently added an additional $15,000 to the pool available for grants, of which $7,500 went to the spring festival.” As far as I know, this is the largest award in the history of the Creative Endeavor Grants program. Had extra funds been available during the official review process, the outcome would have been much different. Obviously, we could not allocate funds we didn’t have.

It was so nice of Gig Harbor Now to promote this city-sponsored event. I hope you will give an equal amount of free publicity to the other 13 wonderful projects that also received grant funding.

Lynn Stevenson

Gig Harbor Arts Commissioner, 2016 – March 2023