Pain and gain

When the Indiana Arts Commission (IAC) decided to go from a centralized funding scheme to a regional system in order to distribute its money, just about everyone applauded, from arts providers and legislators to arts advocates and the media.

Two years later, the picture has shifted. Although more organizations are applying for arts funding than ever before, the state"s budget problems have left the IAC with less money. "Some arts organizations are disappointed by the awards while some are calling to say thank you for funding them for the first time and giving them a chance to grow," cites Joanna Nixon, an associate staff member with the Central Indiana Community Foundation. The CICF acts as the IAC"s funding partner in Region 7, which includes Marion County.

Envisioned as the most equitable way to ensure that limited public money reached traditionally underserved individuals and groups, leadership in each of the 12 regions has engaged in vigorous outreach. Dorothy L. Ilgen, executive director of the IAC, explains, "The regional structure was created to better deliver what arts organizations and artists said they want and need: not just money, but technical assistance customized to the region. The desired result, an increase in the number of proposals, has been attained."

In Region 7 (which also includes Boone, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Johnson, Morgan and Shelby counties), that means for fiscal year 2002-"03, 20 percent more organizations are competing for 10 percent less money than during FY 1999-2000.

"The positive consequences of our outreach efforts show more are doing arts programming, more are applying, more communities are appreciating arts events. Thirty-three more groups applied in the last two years," Nixon states.

But those groups are applying for funds from a shrinking pot. "The variables are jumbled," Nixon continues. "It"s not a simple cause and effect. The economy slowed, state dollars decreased just as there was an increase in organizations submitting grant proposals."

The public announcement of grants is expected July 10. Nixon says there may be further disappointments. "We"re still waiting to hear how the state budget will impact on what"s available. It may stay the same, or it may go down more," Nixon adds.

Like all other state agencies, the IAC is experiencing a 33 percent cut in its already strapped budget. "We are now 50 percent smaller in structure than when I came," Ilgen says.

The public is invited to a reception recognizing Region 7 arts grants recipients July 17, 5-6:30 p.m. at the Indianapolis Art Center, located on 65th Street just east of College in Broad Ripple.

Need more information? Call Central Indiana Community Foundation at 634-2423 or log on to, and/or call Indiana Arts Commission at 232-1288 or log on to


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