Vancouver Foundation supports individual artists through the Downtown Eastside Small Arts Grants Project, which supports the large population of urban artists who live in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighbourhood.
Leaders from the arts sector and Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighborhood identified a gap in community development for artists, as individuals are ineligible to apply for grants at Vancouver Foundation. The Downtown Eastside Small Arts Grants Project (DTES SAG) was established in partnership with Carnegie Community Centre Association, a local organization that provides social, educational, cultural and recreational activities for the benefit of the people of the Downtown Eastside. This partnership applied the successful community project model from the Neighborhood Small Grants Program and utilizes the strength of partnerships to administer a community-led grants program.
By making one single grant to the Carnegie Community Center Association, which distributes the grants to individual artists, Vancouver Foundation is able to meet the needs of a thriving arts community. This is very significant, because the Association provides empowerment and development to individuals in a very meaningful way, and the foundation is able to facilitate this influential exchange through the significant resources provided.
This special initiative offered grants of up to $1000 directly to individual artists to support in developing and presenting their work. The DTES was a natural location for the pilot project because of the large number of low-income artists practicing in the area. The purpose of the project was to increase the economic viability of DTES artists and to foster broader community recognition of the creative contributions of neighborhood residents.
Since 2009, Vancouver Foundation has contributed $200,000 to the Association, which is being re-granted to approximately 130 artists in the community.
An online video showcases the final evaluation of the Downtown Eastside Small Arts Grants Project, and with community support we hope to continue this initiative in 2011.
We have learned that a small amount of money goes a long way to make a big impact on an individual’s life and art practice. It seems challenging to measure this kind of impact from our funding; however, we have discovered we can share the funding impact of this program through the stories of our artists such as that of Ron Horsefall. It is the stories of these individuals that have helped us to confirm continued funding for this program in 2011. This program has also shown us the need to support applicants in the pre and post application process. By doing so we anticipate that this dedicated investment in this neighbourhood will build capacity in our residents and continue to make impact years from now.
NEXT STEPSThe board of Vancouver Foundation has funded this program again for this 2011, and VanCity Community Foundation will also contribute financial resources to support this program. Next steps include providing capacity building assistance to the individual artists. By offering training in arts marketing, small business knowledge, event production and self-curating, the foundation intends to expand the program in a very substantial way.