The Delaware Division of the Arts announced last week that $2.9 million in grants for Fiscal Year 2014have been awarded to numerous art initiatives throughout the state, including a $2,500 grant that will go to the Corbit-Calloway Memorial Library in Odessa.
Like the last 15 years that Library Director Karen Quinn has applied for the grant, the money will specifically support children's programming throughout the upcoming Fiscal Year.
"It's a very welcome help to us," Quinn said, while explaining that library focuses on pre-school children during the school year and concentrates on the older children in the summer.
Corbit-Calloway was the only organization in the MOT area that received a grant but was one of more than 50 grants awarded to organizations in New Castle County, on a list that included theater groups, dance companies, museums, art leagues and music groups.
Only two other organizations nearby applied for and received grants as well. The Diamond State Chorus of Sweet Adelines International in Bear received $1,690 for general operating support. Just south of the area, in Smyrna, the Smyrna Opera House received two grants that total more than $30,000. DDA ultimately awarded 109 grants throughout the state.
Division grants support a variety of projects and programs, from storytelling for preschool reading readiness to professional performances in dance, theater and music. Delaware museums and art leagues in large and small communities alike receive support for internationally recognized collections as well as local artists and artisans.
"A record number of applicants in this year's funding cycle confirm the ongoing breadth and depth of arts activity in Delaware," said Division Director Paul Weagraff. "The quality of arts programming remains high at a time when organizations are striving to build sustainable models based on collaboration, innovation and coordinated programming."
Part of the $2.9 million distributed includes a new Delaware Arts Trust Fund, bringing Delaware's public sector support for the arts closer to the national average of 8 percent of the revenue for nonprofit arts organizations. It is hoped that the arts investment —a collaboration of the Joint Finance Committee, the Governor's Office and the Department of State— will yield significant returns in both state and local revenues, as indicated in the Americans for the Arts study, "Arts and Economic Prosperity," released in 2012 and explained at a summit of artists, art supporters and art organizations in Dover in October 2012.
"The state's investment in the arts makes good business sense because the industry plays a critical role in Delaware's economy," said Secretary of State Jeff Bullock. "As one of the state's top ten employers, we know that Delaware's nonprofit arts sector generates more than $142 million annually in economic activity in the state and supports nearly 3,900 full-time equivalent jobs."
Page 2 of 2 - $142 million and nearly 3,900 were some of the figures presented in the "Arts and Economic Prosperity" study, compiled from information from Fiscal Year 2010. The overwhelming objective of the results presentation was that the numbers proved that arts organizations, especially non-profit organizations like the Corbit-Calloway Memorial Library or the Everett Theatre, generated a large chunk of revenue, both on a local and a statewide level.
In order to make an impact on the community, an arts organization has to plan programming that will attract local residents and outside visitors. The study was adamant that attracting locals is actually key to economic solvency for most organizations.
To that end, the library in Odessa is doing its best to do its part by stretching its grant award as far as it will go by planning a "season" that includes several old favorites and new friends. Last year, the grant money went to programs like Native American storyteller "Joseph Stands with Many," storyteller and songwriter Alden Phelps, who uses catchy songs to drive home lessons about farms and sustainability and Ugandan drummer Kinobe.
"Kinobe is just amazing to hear and see," said Quinn. "The kids just love him and we do, too."
Crabmeat Thompson, a folk musician who plays a regular set at the Saint Georges Country Store, is also known to stop by to entertain the tykes as well. Plans for this year include the Segal Puppet Theater; Storyteller and poet Tahira; Spanish musician Andres Salguero; Storyteller Clem Bowen and the Rags to Riches Theater for Young Audiences.
"We get a lot of mileage out of the grant money by bringing in all of these guests who can entertain and educate at the same time," Quinn said. "And, our audiences love it. We're almost always packed."