City grant report highlights need for arm's length arts council

Vancouver council will vote tomorrow on a report that recommends a grant of $60,200 to the Centre for Sustainability to continue to deliver the ArtsPOD (Arts Partners in Organizational Development) program and deliver a pilot program called NEXT Generation Arts Leadership.

The ArtsPOD program, which has been running since 1989, gives grants to non-profit arts and heritage groups for organizational development.

The new NEXT Generation Arts Leadership will help small and medium-sized arts groups ready to create long-term strategies for growth. This program will provide participants with up to $20,000 to invest in their operational structure while they take part in a facilitated development process.

The inaugural cohort for this program has already been selected: the Electric Company, Neworld Theatre, Out on Screen, Gallery Gachet, musica intima, and the Turning Point Ensemble.

The staff report recommending the $60,200 grant notes that the Centre for Sustainability will “consult with staff from the City of Vancouver/Cultural Services for input into the selection of candidates and recipients for the programs and into program development and evaluation.”

The report makes no mention of a jury of peers to decide on grant recipients. One of the reasons why many in the local arts and culture community favour an arm’s-length arts council model for the city is to create  a boundary  between city staff and grants.

As the Cultch’s Heather Redfern noted in an October 9, 2008 article, "I think if you talked to some artists, they might fear for their grants if they were to perhaps stand up to somebody that somehow might influence their grants."

In the same article, then NPA councillor Elizabeth Ball said, “I think we have the best of both worlds, where we actually hire and pay artists to jury the awards, so we don't have our bureaucrats deciding awards.”

On December 10, council passed a motion by councillor Heather Deal  requesting city staff to research different arts council models. Their report is expected in late February.




Jan 22, 2009 at 3:20pm

RE: Arts Notes January 19.09 - City grant report highlights need for arm's length arts council

For the record:

The Centre for Sustainability is an independent grant-maker engaged in strengthening BC’s not-for-profit organizations at their operating core.

Since 2003, we have delivered capacity building grants to over 550 Aboriginal, health and social service, arts and environmental not-for-profit organizations in British Columbia.

To create our grant programs, we draw on pooled funds provided by over a dozen government and institutional funders; these funders recognize that by combining the relatively modest amounts each one has available for capacity building, they can have a deeper impact.

As an independent charitable foundation, we are able to offer our funders a formal arms’ length relationship with an experienced capacity builder and grant maker; this means that our board, staff and advisors are 100 % accountable for all grant and program decisions. We fully embrace this responsibility, applying our organizational development expertise and our experience in and knowledge of what constitutes responsible grant decision-making.

We are especially proud of our pilot program, the Next Generation Arts Leadership, not only for what it offers an under-resourced segment of the professional arts community, but also because our colleagues at the City of Vancouver, Vancouver Foundation and the BC Arts Council recognized the value of establishing a clear boundary between their funding and our grant decision-making.

Kathleen Speakman, Executive Director
BC Centre for Not for Profit Sustainability

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