The ArtsKC Fund will help Kansas City’s art scene thrive for years to come.
Story by Alex Sher
As the saying goes, “Earth without art is just ‘eh.’” Arts help a community flourish by adding beauty, encouraging creativity and enriching local culture. Much to no one’s surprise, Kansas City’s arts community is thriving. We’re one of only 17 cities to have a professional symphony, opera and ballet. More than 8,000 people in the metropolitan area have a full-time job in the arts, and annually, they make a collective economic impact of $273 million and attract tourists to the city.
Clearly, we want to protect that spark that boosts our city economically and culturally. The ArtsKC Fund, Kansas City’s united arts reserve, bolsters the local arts community and cultivates a sense of community ownership as locals support the arts they love.
The ArtsKC Fund is a part of the ArtsKC – Regional Arts Council. It’s funded by workplace giving campaigns (annual fundraisers that offer employees the opportunity to make a single financial contribution to a wide range of arts organizations, artists and arts programs across KC), as well as donations from the government, businesses and individuals.
After a campaign, the fund works with community volunteers to distribute the money as grants. About 70 percent of these grants are ovation grants for preexisting nonprofit arts organizations in KC. Catalyst grants are awarded for operations and programs of both arts organizations and social service agencies that utilize art programming. These make up about 25 percent of ArtsKC’s grants. The last 5 percent are inspiration grants awarded to individual artists for projects and career development.
“The ArtsKC Fund is the most equal opportunity way to ensure that Kansas City hears from diverse artistic voices and not just those with access to donors,” says ArtsKC Regional Arts Council Marketing and Communications Manager Sara Vogt.
The fund provides smaller artists and organizations with the resources they need, while spreading awareness of the good things bigger organizations are doing behind-the-scenes. In addition, the inspiration grants keep local artists (especially those graduating from the Kansas City Art Institute and the University of Missouri-Kansas City Music and Conservatory) from relocating to other cities.
The City Council has embraced the notion that a flourishing arts community enriches the local economy. In its budget proposal, the City Council allotted $75,000 for the ArtsKC Fund. This money will cover the operation expenses of the fund, allowing ArtsKC Fund to allocate 100 percent of the money it receives from individuals, corporations and foundations for grants.
With additional funding in place, ArtsKC is striving to increase its community impact this year. It has created an ArtsKC Fund Advisory Committee to organize the first annual ArtsKC Week, which will take place June 1-6. “[It] will involve arts events throughout the city, our second annual day of giving, #timetogive and a celebration in the Crossroads on First Friday,” Vogt says.