Arts Council 101 – GFAC History VIII

Definition: Arts Council: A service agency established to foster the health and growth of arts and cultural programming within their defined service area. All disciplines of the arts are included: Music, Dance, Literature, Theater and Visual Arts.

Greetings! For the past few years GFAC has been involved in a capacity building program called BEST (Building Equity Sustainability and Trust). BEST has assisted us in evaluating ourselves, allowing others to evaluate us, improving our technology, strategic planning and assessing our capacity to grow.

One of the recurring themes from our research is that most people have a high opinion of GFAC, but they do not fully understand our mission. We have created this column to educate our members and others who may read this publication, so you may be our ambassadors.

“The story continues…just 50 miles from home and our crew found themselves stopped dead in their tracks looking down a mile deep opening in the earth’s crust…”

It is the responsibility of an Arts Council to respond to the emerging needs of the community. In the early 1990’s GFAC strategic planners identified four areas where arts programming and support were needed. Some re-affirmed those identified at the Where’s Art Conferences a decade earlier. These areas would become the recipe for the next decade of successful programming for GFAC. They continue to be a vital part of program planning today.

1) Support for Local Artists
2) Support for Local Arts and Cultural Agencies
3) Arts Education
4) Marketing

This month I will continue to write about how GFAC works to help other local arts and cultural agencies.

2) Support for Local Arts and Cultural Agencies.

Throughout Genesee County there are close to 100 arts and cultural agencies. They vary in size and discipline. Their needs are as varied as their programs. Some GFAC programs meet the needs of many of these agencies. However, many of them have unique needs which must be addressed in a fashion unique to them. In the previous issue of Where’s Art I wrote about how GFAC offers help in communicating programs to the public for arts/cultural agencies throughout greater Flint and helping meet the financial needs of those arts/cultural agencies. In this issue I will continue to write about the many ways GFAC helps arts and cultural groups.

Greater Flint Arts Council is an incubator for arts and cultural agencies and programs. The GFAC Arts Incubator program is very loosely defined. This allows the GFAC staff to easily respond to requests for assistance. We never know in advance what the needs may be. We make all our resources available, keep an open mind, take each request as it comes and make a decision at what level we can participate. Some of the newest groups that have emerged may need to use our office equipment. They may need help with promoting their programs. They may need a place to present their programs to the public. They may need a place for their planning committees to meet. GFAC has also helped supply targeted mailing lists, sources of funding and consulting services. We also share our gallery space for many types of programs including concerts, poetry readings / slams, theater rehearsals / performances, dinners and more. If the group has a 501 (3) C or equivalent designation from the IRS we can help fund the project through the MCACA Regional Re-granting program. If not, we can serve as their fiscal agent for grants from other sources.

GFAC has served as an incubator for more than 20 years. Twenty years ago the Buckham Alley Theater was founded at GFAC and was then launched as an independent agency. Many agencies have benefited from GFAC’s incubator program. Some of the agencies or groups that have used this service in the past few years include Buckham Alley Theater, The Creative Alliance, DIVA!, Fenton Jubil’Eve Project, Flint City Theater, Flint Film Festival, Flint Folk Music Society, Genesee County Historical Society, Lapeer Art Center, MarCed Productions, McCree Theater, Museum of Afrikan Ancestry and Research Center, Neo Griot Performance Collective, Red Ink Studios, Vertigo Productions, Vassar Public Library and Tuskeegee Institute Alumni.

In the next issue of Where’s Art I will write about the need for arts education and the programs GFAC offers to meet the needs of students, educators and providers of youth activities.

Keep an eye out for the February issue of Where’s Art where the GFAC story will continue.

Greg Fiedler