LINC, Ford Foundation Unveil $1M in ‘Space for Change’ Grants

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If you ask me (which no one is), the jury is out as to whether “increasing capacity” — meaning building more spaces for arts organization to do their work — is the best thing when real estate nationally is in such dire straits. If we have about 30 percent of all mortgages underwater, as CNN is reporting, how can we ensure that arts groups will bear construction costs and maintain mortgages and not, well, contribute to the detritus of the very-burst bubble?

No one would question, even for a moment, that the “Space for Change” Grants announced today by LINC (Leveraging Investments in Creativity) and the Ford Foundation represent a bulwark against the more dire set of imaginable fiscal scenarios. If I didn’t think this program served as a beacon of hope (apologies for the cliche), I wouldn’t promote it.

But as the excerpted press release below might indicate, there are hundreds of groups out there looking to build — yet I don’t see where the expectation of rising funding for nonprofit arts groups is coming into the picture. Not speak overly generally, and certainly not to speak reductively, but might we ask ourselves the following question: Do you see public and private funding for nonprofit arts groups growing in the next five years or shrinking or remaining about the same? Remaining the same is the new up, I fear. And what will we do about it? Probably not much at the rate things are going.

Now that I’ve totally outed myself as the supremely pessimistic sad-sack, here is the release:

LINC and the Ford Foundation Award $1 Million in ‘Space for Change’ Planning Grants to Emerging Arts and Cultural Facilities Across the United States
12 Organizations Receive Valuable Grants to Move from Concept to Construction

Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC) and the Ford Foundation today announced the winners of the Space for Change Planning and Pre-Development grants, awarding up to $100,000 each to 12 outstanding nonprofit arts organizations in the early stages of developing exemplary cultural facilities. The grants provide organizations with the initial startup funds that are most needed-and the most difficult to obtain-to develop a new facility.

…Today’s winners were chosen from nearly 700 applicants from 49 states as well as the District of Columbia. They responded to an April 2010 call from LINC, in partnership with Ford, for letters of interest from nonprofit arts organizations intending to buy, construct, renovate, help develop, or become anchor tenants in an arts space or cultural facility. Full proposals were invited from organizations with strong track records of artistic excellence, cultural diversity and community engagement. Exemplary projects were generated not only from the internal needs of the organization but also took into account the role of the arts space as an essential community asset.

The foundation’s investment is part of a $10 million annual commitment to supporting new and emergent spaces as well as established organizations wishing to expand and revitalize their programming and facilities. Sharing best practice and providing opportunities for learning and professional development t are key aspects of this initiative.