2011 Promising Projects — Nurturing Community Arts
The projects listed below, from grants awarded last year, provide examples of "on-target" proposals in each of the Foundation's grantmaking program areas that seem to hold promise of high impact if implemented as planned.
Dog Story Theater - $10,000www.dogstorytheater.com
Operating since 2007, Dog Story Theater is an all-volunteer run nonprofit that provides an affordable, flexible venue for performing artists in the Greater Grand Rapids region to produce their work. They fill a unique niche in offering affordable rehearsal and performance space for fledgling acting companies who do not have or need a permanent home of their own. The also act as an incubator offering back-of house business, box-office and maintenance services and are inclusive of all genres, experience levels, size of show and audience levels. In 2010, they hosted 92 different shows, working with 58 local performing groups – most of which have been in existence for 2 years or less.
Dog Story Theater is at a critical point in their growth. In order to continue to grow and stabilize their operations, they need to focus on donor development and also have an opportunity to expand their rental income through some modest improvements of their leased facility. They have a three year plan to sustainability.
Having access to low-cost performance space including back-of house management is a critical component in the startup of an artist or arts organization’s development. This grant will support Dog Story Theater’s unique and valuable role in the emerging artist community and speaks to the importance of having a vibrant and diverse arts community which includes easy entry points for those artists at the beginning stages of developing their work. Structuring the grant as a partial challenge is intended to help them grow their donor base and meet their sustainability and improvement goals.
Interlochen Center for the Arts - $80,000www.interlochen.org
Interlochen Center for the Arts is made up of 4 main components - high school, summer camp, public radio and community workshops and classes. The summer arts camp, its flagship component, has recently undergone extensive restructuring focused on increasing programs and instructional focus, thus placing a greater demand on Interlochen’s facilities. A desire to more effectively engage with its 25,000 annual visitors also exists. To address these needs and a desire to showcase a new annual professional theatre (Shakespeare) initiative, Interlochen is moving forward with the construction of a new, intimate-scale seasonal performance pavilion on the north end of its campus.
Construction of a new 500-seat outdoor pavilion with stage, restrooms, green room and removable (sprung) dance floor will create a home for Interlochen’s new, and very popular, Shakespeare professional theatre series making it the only professional theatre available in the region. In addition, the new space allows for program expansion and more appropriate space for performances such as acoustic jazz, poetry readings and summer dance concerts which would benefit from a more intimate setting.
Support for this regional facility typifies the Foundation’s interest in funding capital projects of arts organizations which are broadly supported and help an institution to support its efforts to increase earned revenue and grow program offerings while providing its audience with a higher quality experience. The project is also supported by an endowment which assures its ongoing maintenance.