Ever wonder how public murals, artworks, or projects become a part of a community? As of lately, it has been a good busy in Richmond. It’s Neighborhood Public Art Mini-Grant time! Being a freshman Arts and Culture Commissioner, the experience is a brand new one. Because no city is alike, understanding the process has been a learning curve but very meaningful.
The last two Thursdays have consisted of marathon evenings of interesting presentations. I printed the proposals in advance, organized them in a jumbo-sized binder, read them, and took notes. Wanted to be prepared! Commissioners sit around a large wooden table in a conference room while prospective grantees present ideas. Every applicant is allowed to stay in the room and listen to their competition!
There were 15 presentations spread over two evenings. Each concept is scored by a rubric broken into six different sections from its impact on Richmond’s community to the feasibility of the project. Applicants have 10 minutes to present followed by a quick 5 minute Q&A by commissioners.
This year’s candidates included Molly Raynor’s When Daughters Rise, Cirstal Banagan’s Richmond’s Little Free Libraries, Desi Mundo’s Cycles of Creation, Steve Hurst’s Richmond Rainbow, Keiko Nelson’s Pray for World Peace, Michele Wells’ The War at Home, Lana Husser’s Merging Cultures and Understanding, Toody Maher’s 9th Street Entry Totems, Jordan Simmons’ Iron Voices, Josue Hernandez’s Photo Cyclist Project, Fred Franklin’s The 24-Carrott Kid Comes to Life, Raymond Haywood’s Cycle Richmond Box Art, Parke Ballantine’s Media Arts Project, Laydee Kaye’s Evoke the Goddess, and Tana Montero’s I Am Richmond.
Scores will be organized and tabulated at a later date. The commissioners will meet to discuss the top presentations, look at requested grant amounts, and try to match a limited budget with applicant needs. Unfortunately, there’s not enough money to fund each deserving project. The arts have to fight for every dollar in local governments and beyond.
While the results are unknown at this point, it will be a difficult to edit the group to the final selections. Looking forward to seeing what new projects are approved. While some will be disappointed, acceptance and rejection are part of the process. There are factors that can’t be controlled like resources. Some art is better than no art. However, individuals like myself will be fighting for more.