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ArtsChat Ohio: FY 2022 Arts Learning Grants

Introducing ArtsChat Ohio, an audio blog bringing you the latest news and updates from Ohio Arts Council staff members. These conversations are recorded to be enjoyed using the audio player below. A transcript and show notes are also included. 


Transcript
Audio transcript edited for clarity.

 LET'S GET STARTED (Begins at 0:00)

 CHIQUITA: Hello everyone, and welcome to our discussion today. I’m Chiquita Mullins Lee, arts learning coordinator with the Ohio Arts Council, and I’m here with my esteemed colleague, Jarred Small, who is my counterpart at the OAC. We’re glad you’re listening, and we’re happy to talk about the OAC’s Arts Learning Department, especially with two big deadlines approaching in February and March 2021. The TeachArtsOhio deadline is February 1, and the Arts Partnership deadline is March 1.

The unprecedented times we are facing have challenged our creativity to an even higher degree, yet we have seen our constituents meet the challenges in powerful ways. Today, Jarred and I will discuss our programs to give you food for thought as you prepare applications for the upcoming deadlines. We also want to support you in considering options for responding to the impact of COVID-19 on your work. We hope that as you listen to our discussion, you will feel empowered to pursue and achieve your arts learning goals.

JARRED: Thanks, Chiquita, for a great introduction. As with much of our world, a lot has happened at the Ohio Arts Council since March 2020. We have been living through volatile, challenging, and difficult situations across Ohio and our nation related to a trifecta of crises that include the coronavirus, its economic fallout, and a year of great social unrest and reckoning. Indeed, one need not look very far beyond Ohio’s schools and school districts to see these effects play out. We’ve seen forced school closures, transitions to hybrid and fully remote learning models, and an acute focus on work and curricula surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion for all our children.

Here at the OAC, all staff have been working tirelessly to continue serving the needs of our constituency, which has included—among many other things—working with individual grantees on a case-by-case basis to provide the resources and flexibility needed for grant-supported projects to continue and successfully conclude.

Regrettably, one of the bigger OAC headlines since March surrounds state budget reductions across almost all state agencies in Ohio, made necessary by the coronavirus pandemic. Things looked pretty down in the spring before taking a positive turn this fall.

The OAC’s state appropriations for the biennium were reduced to just more than $32 million, a cutback of $2.1 million. In response, agency staff have worked to mitigate cuts to grantees, in part by taking on administrative cuts. The OAC has pursued administrative savings through pay cuts, a hiring and travel freeze, a freeze on new contracts, and an agency-wide cost-savings analysis that eliminated or lowered many expenses and ended various non-essential services.

Crucially, the agency has also so far been able to avoid staff layoffs, employing a mission-critical staff of 18. To further lessen cuts to grantees, the OAC also reinvested the entirety of its $517,200 in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act dollars from the National Endowment for the Arts into grants for Ohio arts organizations.

Then, on October 26, the Ohio Controlling Board approved an additional $20 million in economic relief from the CARES Act for the arts and culture sector to be distributed through the OAC. This funding was initially announced October 23 by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted, and legislative leaders of the Ohio General Assembly. Subsequently, the OAC regranted the entirety of the $20 million from the federal CARES Act without retaining any for overhead or administrative expenses. Pursuant to federal law, the OAC expended its CARES Act funds before December 30 and actually completed this monumental work on November 30, ensuring needed funds were in the hands of arts organizations as quickly as possible.

This marked the most significant arts economic relief package ever earned and administered by the OAC. It also represents the second-largest single investment of CARES Act dollars to date of any U.S. state or territory dedicated exclusively to the arts.

Of course, with this good news comes the acknowledgement that there are many financial needs in the arts community beyond that which the Ohio Arts Council and the State of Ohio could ever fully provide. However, the OAC—including its arts learning office—stands ready to steward additional dollars from state, federal, and private sources to invest in Ohio’s future through the arts should they become available.

And so, the OAC’s work continues to move forward, and we’re looking ahead to all that 2021 has to offer. While we await the arrival of a mass-produced COVID-19 vaccine, the OAC is still working hard to continue offering grant programs focused on arts education that will support the work of schools, arts organizations, and teaching artists and invest in future creative endeavors for the benefit of Ohio’s PK-12 students.

With that in mind, today, Chiquita and I wanted to highlight some important arts-learning-focused grant programs offered by the OAC that are available now for schools and arts organizations to apply to. We’ll also discuss how applicants might shape their proposals considering the current, evolving situation surrounding the pandemic. And we’ll do this through a question-and-answer-style format between the two of us.

GRANT APPLICATIONS NOW OPEN FOR FY 2022-23 (Begins at 6:31)

CHIQUITA: Before that, however, we want to mention that grant applications are open now for programs supporting arts education activities occurring next school year—that’s school year 2021-22. You can view all of the OAC’s grant programs on our website at oac.ohio.gov and click on the “Grants” tab to review each program’s Guidelines, a crucial step before beginning your application. Within these Guidelines, you can view things like eligibility requirements, how the grant programs work, how to apply, and even a detailed breakdown of the review criteria by which all applications will be reviewed and scored.

I’ll also note that all applications are submitted through the OAC’s online grants management system, ARTIE. Before you begin your application, you’ll need your own ARTIE profile. If you’re a school that’s new to the OAC, you must reach out to the OAC to get yourself registered, but if you’re a nonprofit arts organization, you can create an ARTIE profile for yourself by searching for your organization in the provided IRS database. To begin your ARTIE journey, go to ohioartscouncil.smartsimple.com.

BIG YELLOW SCHOOL BUS (Begins at 8:03)

JARRED: With that business out of the way, I think we’re ready to dive into the meat and potatoes of our discussion today about OAC arts learning grant programs.

Chiquita, can you start us off by telling us a little about the Big Yellow School Bus program?

CHIQUITA: The Big Yellow School Bus program is one of our most popular programs. It’s highly accessible, and it provides field trips to arts and cultural events within Ohio. The maximum grant amount is $500, with no match required. There is a rolling deadline, so schools can apply anytime throughout the school year, as long as they apply up to eight weeks in advance of their planned field trip.

It’s important to note that the grant activities funded through Big Yellow School Bus are not for student participation in arts events—they won’t be the ones on stage singing or playing instruments. The program instead funds opportunities for students to gain exposure to the arts by observing from the audience or by visiting a gallery.

JARRED: I would assume that the pandemic has probably impacted the kinds of arts experiences funded through this program. As of this recording in early December 2020, what is the status of the Big Yellow School Bus program?

CHIQUITA: The Big Yellow School Bus program is on hiatus until further notice. It has been on hiatus since March 2020 because of the high-contact components of field trips. But it is only a hiatus and not an elimination of the program.

JARRED: So, with that in mind, how can teachers stay connected to the program?

CHIQUITA: Just continue to contact the OAC for updates. They can reach out to me at chiquita.mullinslee@oac.ohio.gov or call me at 614-728-4455.

Teachers can also make note of prospective field trips they are interested in taking so that when we open the program back up again, they will be ready to apply.

JARRED: Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen almost everything go virtual and online. Do you know of any organizations that are offering virtual learning opportunities, or do you have any tips when it comes to virtual programming for arts education needs?

CHIQUITA: I would suggest that teachers visit the website of any organization that they are interested in and find out what kinds of virtual programming they offer. One example is the Cleveland International Film Festival, one of our most popular destinations for this specific grant program. Because people are currently unable to travel to the theatres in Cleveland, they can go to the Cleveland International Film Festival website, which offers online programming. It’s been great to see how such a popular site for field trips has been able to adjust their operations to address the challenges of the coronavirus. We encourage that continued curiosity and interest in the program.

TEACHARTSOHIO (Begins at 11:20)

CHIQUITA: So now, let’s pivot to another one of our flagship arts learning programs, the TeachArtsOhio program. Jarred, can you give us a quick historical overview of the TeachArtsOhio program and how it’s evolved over the years?

JARRED: It has been an evolution, and that’s a good place to start. TeachArtsOhio (TAO) has evolved from the OAC’s former Artist in Residence program. So, essentially, TAO is a school-based, collaborative opportunity for schools to work with professional artists who are experienced in working with students in grades PK – 12. The pilot phase for TAO began in 2015, and the program was formally launched in 2017.

TeachArtsOhio maintains some elements of the Artist in Residence program, especially in the exposure of students to artmaking opportunities led by professional artists. But TAO revamps some other aspects of the former program, namely, encouraging more flexibility in the structure and length of artist residencies. Schools now have the opportunity to work with artists from a time period as short as one week (five days) to as long as a whole school year (about 120 days).

One of the core tenants of TAO is the longer-term, deeper engagement of students with professional artists. This is great for schools that desire to introduce a spark of innovation or creativity into their curriculum. This is the program for them.

CHIQUITA: It’s a great program. For many folks considering applying to TeachArtsOhio, this becomes their first time ever applying for support through the OAC’s grantmaking process. I know that oftentimes, school districts have dedicated personnel whose full-time job includes managing state and federal grants. But with TeachArtsOhio, many of the primary contacts who apply are teachers or administrators. What can those folks expect when they open the TeachArtsOhio application for the first time?

JARRED: I think you really hit on an important point there in that many schools that apply to the OAC’s TeachArtsOhio program are first-time applicants, potentially navigating the grant application process by themselves for the first time. We at the OAC want to lower the barrier to entry to applying for grant funding as much as possible, and we do pride ourselves on staff accessibility and trying to make the application simple yet comprehensive.

I think the one thing that folks should think about first and foremost is that time is a crucial element when crafting a grant application. So, give yourself time. It’s probably good habit to open the application sooner rather than later, and when you do, become familiar with some key tabs on the application itself. The narrative tab is designed to guide you through the answers we are looking for through a series of bulleted points, so pay close attention to those under each narrative question. If you address each of those bullets, you are setting yourself up pretty well for success.

The budget tab essentially asks you to tell us not only how much funding you are seeking from the OAC, but also if there are other funds being brought in from outside sources, whether that’s the school or a local business, as well as in-kind contributions like the time teachers or administrators spend on aspects of the project.

Finally, the support materials tab in nutshell is everything beyond the written text that applicants wish to include as part of their application. These materials help to amplify the proposed project, and they can include support letters, previous examples of lessons or curriculum, or artwork produced as part of a similar residency. You’ll also want to include at least a couple of documents that really showcase the qualifications of the artist(s) with whom you’d like to work.

And I mentioned the teaching artists before. The final element I think applicants would really want to pay attention to is the question in one of the first few tabs that asks you to name a teaching artist. Applicants to TeachArtsOhio don’t need to have a teaching artist in mind when they apply, and for those who might not have a specific artist in mind, the OAC’s Ohio Teaching Artist Roster is a useful resource for folks applying for a TAO grant. So, if you don’t have an artist in mind, but the idea of working with an artist seems really attractive to you, visit our website. The roster has about 54 artists from around the state who can lead high-quality creative opportunities for students, including in-person and virtual performances, workshops, and longer-term artist residencies. If you have any questions, definitely reach out to us. You can email me at jarred.small@oac.ohio.gov or call 614-728-4481. Part of my job is to help make those matches a reality.

CHIQUITA: That’s great, Jarred. All of those details really help, and I hope that teachers will really take advantage of this wonderful opportunity. It’s really exciting.

The 2021-22 school year remains a mystery for many schools and school districts, especially the learning models and adaptations schools will employ compared to the current school year. What would you recommend to schools who are considering applying but aren’t even sure whether there will be meaningful progress on the COVID-19 front?

JARRED: It’s like looking into a crystal ball, isn’t it? Especially when we’re asking folks to apply for a February or March deadline for activities that are for next school year. I would say to apply anyway! Have a go at it and know that we are flexible. As an agency, and especially within our grant programs, we certainly know that school districts and schools across the state probably don’t have answers right now as to what the fall is going to look like.

But we would encourage schools to envision what next year could look like with a professional artist, whether in-person or hybrid or all virtual. We know that each school district is different and distinct in their plans. We have seen that play out this past fall. Everyone is tackling learning in their own unique way, what works best for them, which is great.

The biggest tip that I would offer is to assume—make assumptions based on how your school is treating this year, the 2020-21 school year, and roll with that. If you’re school is all in-person right now, maybe make that assumption that instruction will be taking place in-person next school year and that resident artists will be allowed in the building. And it might behoove you to include plans for your school will adapt to COVID-19 in its programming via a contingency document that can be included in the support materials tab. It doesn’t have to be all that in-depth, it doesn’t need to be this huge document. It might be a good idea to demonstrate to a panel that, ‘yes, we want this to happen in person, that’s the plan, but here are some plans we might utilize to shift to remote learning if it ever had to happen.’

So, apply, make some assumptions and make those assumptions clear, and then make a contingency plan.

CHIQUITA: That’s good to know, Jarred. Do you have any stand-out examples of TeachArtsOhio residencies that were successful considering the pandemic, perhaps one that impressed you in its ability to pivot to virtual programming?

JARRED: Yes, I’ve got to tell you, Chiquita, I’ve been really impressed with how schools and education personnel and nonprofit education directors shifted so quickly and so successfully to hybrid and remote learning. There are a lot of examples out there, and it’s difficult to pick one or two. But there are a couple that come to my mind, and a couple of different models.

One is a TeachArtsOhio grantee for the current school year. They have accomplished a flamenco residency—so they were doing a dance residency focused on the flamenco art form—and it was a hybrid model. They had the flamenco artist actually teaching flamenco to the kids on the school’s tennis courts back in early fall, when the weather was still pretty nice. They were socially distanced and masks were worn, and the weather was conducive to teaching dance. That part was great. That was very much like a hands-on artmaking activity. The flip side of that was the hybrid model, when they brought in virtual programming. The flamenco artist worked with numerous Spanish language classes at the school, and they managed to integrate the flamenco artist into these Spanish classes virtually. It really gave a jolt to the Spanish curriculum. And it essentially integrated flamenco into the Spanish-speaking language components of that class. That was a really interesting element because it didn’t really involve teaching flamenco, per se, but it opened the eyes of a lot of Spanish students to the art of flamenco that they wouldn’t have had otherwise. So, it went from a more in-person dance element to a more integrative application of the flamenco culture and history and what that means for the Spanish language.

The other one that shifted to full-remote was a music residency at a high school. And, actually, the teaching artist provided me with a quote a little while back when he shifted to remote learning. So, of course, the idea was to do a music residency in person, the pandemic happened, and they shifted to remote.

Here’s what the teaching artist had to say: “Transitioning to musical remote learning had us thinking in new ways to interact, connect, and teach students. New programs and applications, such as Google Classroom, have been used to create assignments for creative lyric writing, listening and analyzing songs, and posting reference documents, while newer apps such as Soundtrap and Flipgrid were used to record/film a student singing along to a track or writing a new song."

So, essentially, this was actually a songwriting-based residency, and they leaned really heavily on the music technology that is out there to continue the collaboration between students at home with a professional singer-songwriter who is based in Cleveland. That has worked really well. Technology has really been a saving grace for some of these things.

CHIQUITA: What a wonderful way to amplify learning in the arts in your classrooms. It’s just amazing to me what people can do.

JARRED: It really is. And, of course, credit goes out to all the hardworking educators and teaching artists out there who so successfully responded to shifting times in education and really provided a creative outlet for kids when it was—and still is—needed. Hats off to all of our grantees for doing that.

ARTS PARTNERSHIP (Begins at 26:45)

JARRED: I want to dive into a bit about Arts Partnership, which is another one of our major OAC grant programs. And, of course, Chiquita is the lead on that program. Chiquita, will you describe what Arts Partnership is all about?

CHIQUITA: The Arts Partnership program provides funding for community-based arts education projects. So, in this regard, grants are offered to arts and cultural organizations, supporting projects in various disciplines. Arts Partnership grants support in-depth, intensive sequential study of an arts discipline along with hands-on artmaking. So, it is studying art but then also making, actually getting your hands into the paint or into the clay or whatever the discipline might be.

The grants support the engagement of professional artists working with project leaders and participants. So, again, these are artists who have a lot of experience in their given field. Arts Partnership also serves participants from preschoolers through older adults, so this is truly intergenerational. We talk about lifelong learning, and Arts Partnership supports that to a major degree.

Project leaders for Arts Partnership grants work intensively to plan a project that serves specific community needs. The partnership can take different forms. For example, a theatre could partner with an elementary school to allow students to work with theatre professionals and learn all aspects of theatre production. An art center could partner with a senior center to offer painting classes to an older adult audience. A museum could partner with a high school and technology center to help students learn to create and later display digital art projects. So there are a lot of variations, and it is just a matter of applicants using their imagination and thinking about what they’d like to bring to their communities in the area of arts learning.

Arts Partnership offers two-year funding for nonprofit applicants. The maximum grant amount is $25,000, and a cash match is required. Project partners often contribute funds to support the cash match. The partnership aspect of Arts Partnership is critical.

JARRED: So, I spoke a little bit about how COVID-19 has affected TeachArtsOhio. How should applicants to Arts Partnership address their intentions to respond to COVID-19, if necessary?

CHIQUITA: When applicants are completing their application in ARTIE, they can do a couple of things. There are a couple of options. They can include a brief statement in their grant application narrative, but we want to remind folks that they need to be mindful of the word count because ARTIE will limit your word count.

On the other hand, applicants could also include a separate statement in their support materials. That gives them more freedom or flexibility to elaborate as much as they might need to.

JARRED: Yes, that’s good! Use that support materials section if you’re running out of words. That’s a good tip. So, I’m curious to see if you have any strong examples of Arts Partnership projects that pivoted to virtual programming.

CHIQUITA: There are a couple of projects that come to mind. For example, the Columbus Museum of Art offered what is called “Studio in a Box.” The museum is committed to providing virtual experiences to support arts learning at home for students and for families. So, they provided funding to provide stipends to engage local artists to work in partnership with museum staff to create blog posts. But in addition to blog posts, the museum was able to provide up to 300 “Studio in a Box” kits at no cost to Central Ohio families. They worked with a network of teachers and schools to identify families and students who were at-risk. So, they got arts materials, were able to follow instructions and create art at home and not be completely cut off from the arts experience. So, the Columbus Museum of Art was really great at pivoting to deal with this current emergency.

Another one was the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s PROJECT38. They have an annual theatre festival, but, of course, theatres were shut down. So, what did they do? They pivoted to an online festival. So, the PROJECT38 virtual festival for 2020 featured virtual content from each play in Shakespeare’s canon through the PROJECT38 Facebook page. Many students had already completed projects, which they were able to film or photograph prior to schools closing. So, they were still able to have their virtual experience on stage. A lot of schools did have to withdraw from the festival due to the circumstances, but there were still projects from the last five years of the festival that PROJECT38 was able to highlight. Plus, they included content from the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. Many of the resident actors also joined in to create their own contributions. So, they did a really great job of pivoting. And, for anyone who may have been unaware of it, if you go onto their Facebook page, you can watch what the students were doing in the Cincinnati area during May and June of last year and learn a little bit about Shakespeare.

JARRED: I love that. Two really wonderful examples of great pivots to virtual programming. What about in general, though? For Arts Partnership, can you give us one or two examples of really strong Arts Partnership proposals or projects?

CHIQUITA: Sure. One example would be the Wexner Center for the Arts, their Pages program. This is a year-long program that includes arts experiences at the Wexner Center. There are classroom sessions led by Wexner Center educators, as well as local artists. The project encourages writing and artmaking all year long by students. And all of this culminates in an open-mic reception and a professionally designed and published anthology of the students’ work. It’s a great literary and interdisciplinary arts program.

Secondly, WYSO in Yellow Springs is sponsoring the Dayton Youth Radio Project. This project offers in-school training in radio production. It provides an introduction to radio journalism and audio and interviewing techniques, and it includes field trips to WYSO. The project supports the creation of radio documentaries and feature stories for broadcast on WYSO.

FINAL THOUGHTS (Begins at 34:10)

JARRED: Innovation at its finest with all of the folks that you mentioned. They are certainly changing the game with arts education.

I think we can leave things there for now. We hope this has been helpful to folks out there listening and considering applying to an OAC arts learning grant program. Of course, this doesn’t need to be the end of the conversation for you, our audience.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss any matters you heard today more in-depth, both Chiquita and I pride ourselves on our openness and availability. Should you like to get in touch with either or both of us, just head on over to our website at oac.ohio.gov, hover over the “About” tab, and click “Staff Directory,” where you’ll find a listing of all OAC staff members and ways you can get in touch.

So, that does it for now! We really hope you and your loved ones have a bright holiday season, however you plan to celebrate or connect. From all of us at the Ohio Arts Council, we wish you a safe and happy 2021.

CHIQUITA: Safe and happy! Good talking to you, Jarred!

JARRED: You as well, Chiquita! Take care, folks!

CHIQUITA: Goodbye!


Show Notes

Ohio Arts Council Grants Page: oac.ohio.gov/grants
Cleveland International Film Festival: clevelandfilm.org
Columbus Museum of Art "Studio in a Box" Program: columbusmuseum.org/blog/2020/06/24/studio-in-a-box/
PROJECT38 Facebook Page: facebook.com/PROJECT38
Wexner Center for the Arts Pages Program: wexarts.org/education/pages
WYSO Dayton Youth Radio Program: wyso.org/podcast/dayton-youth-radio
Ohio Arts Council Staff Directory: oac.ohio.gov/About/Staff-Directory
Chiquita Mullins Lee: chiquita.mullinslee@oac.ohio.gov | 614-728-4455
Jarred Small: jarred.small@oac.ohio.gov | 614-728-4481
 

ABOUT THE OHIO ARTS COUNCIL
The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at oac.ohio.gov.

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