When school or government budgets get tight, art, music and cultural programs are often the first items targeted for cutbacks.
Given today's lean economy, local champions of the arts should take heart - a number of Marquette County organizations focused on artistic and cultural endeavors were recently on the receiving end of more than $100,000 in grants from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.
Seven local organizations received grants from the state agency to assist with their operational expenses. According to local arts officials, the grants were awarded based on past experience and on the perceived value of art and culture experiences offered by each organization.
Local groups benefiting from the grants were:
While none of the grants may represent "game-changing" amounts, they will take some of the financial pressure off these non-profit organizations, which are all heavily dependent on fundraising to continue operations.
The MCACA awarded more than 300 grants statewide worth more than $5.6 million. We look at these grants as a solid investment by the state in the kinds of programs that make our area an exciting place to live.
We agree wholeheartedly with MCACA Executive Director John Bracey, who said, "the best our state has to offer is reflected in these grants."
Bracey notes that arts and cultural affairs organizations aren't just frilly decorations for our communities - they represent an economically important industry all their own. Artistic and cultural offerings draw tourists, attract new businesses and workers looking for a high quality of life, and support education and research.
But beyond their economic importance, the arts make our area a more fun, more interesting place to live.
We congratulate these local organizations on their good work, and the state for helping them move forward.