The Portland Tribune published my take on 2013 in the visual arts today
, along with predictions by a number of other Portlanders you might recognize.
You've made the comment a number of times that artist-run spaces like Recess, Falsefront, etc., are unable (or restricted against) applying for RACC monies. You might want to qualify this statement, that is, do you meaning "operating" monies? Because any of these groups could apply for Project and Professional Development Grants through RACC if they file EIN paperwork with the State. It's a simple process. Between the two grants, this is up to $8000 annually, with one cycle of Project Grants and two cycles of Professional Development Grants.
First "restricted" isn't the correct term and I don't believe I've used it. Think of it as constrictions that ultimately make those two forms of grants a poor fit for supporting for alternative spaces in a flexible way that matches their flexible programming. In Portland those 2 grants work better for artists who have projects planned extensively more than 6 months in advance (some alt spaces do this... but in Portland's alt spaces this is rare and in many ways it is a good thing).
I've gone over these details several times in various places but it is worthwhile to put it all in one place again. So yes, I'm talking specifically about something geared towards "alternative spaces". In Vancouver BC alt spaces are called "artist run spaces" and receive support specifically for operations and projects at the space's discretion. Project grants have always been available to individual artists (an artist is not an alternative space) but since there was limited space in print I kept it short.
Specifically, Im discussing funds designed for alt spaces whose less formalized planning and activities don't fit the formal specifics of professional development or project grant. This comes from my experience... shows that Ive curated in warehouses and alt spaces over the past 13 years have never fit the timing or other stipulations for either project or professional development grants. Some of the University shows Ive done might have qualified but ultimately Im not referring to those situations (University galleries are not indie or artist run spaces without some larger support institution, Im more concerned with very small operations that are not part of a school or other larger entity).
Instead Im talking about very flexible support. The thing is if you put all discretionary funds in the hands of a arts and culture committee you get a certain kind of result (not better or worse, just a different). Let's just say if you put smaller (even token) discretionary funds in the hands of those who run alternative spaces they will use them in a much more pragmatic way (ie stretch them). In cities where alt spaces are supported this way funding also becomes a kind of official recognition for the space, possibly leading the to becoming more professional over time... transitioning from alt space to a full blown tax deductible nonprofit. I'm not talking indiscriminate handouts, but a graduated amount of support based on the operations and their track records.
Professional development grants are fine and good but alt spaces aren't always planning (in easily definable ways) that far into the future or with specific goals tied to specific outcomes. In fact its the way they find novel ways to get things done that makes them fresh. They are far more pragmatic in their goals. Smaller sums, with minimal strings attached based on a record of previous programming with the idea that it might defray some costs and or help an artist with a few bucks depending on what the director(s) of the space deem as best use would be a better attaboy and encourage more such spaces (and make them last longer... perhaps growing from a small operation to a much larger one over time).
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