A “Year of Extraordinary Support” Announced by the Cultural Council for Palm Beach County
Posted by: Linnea Bailey
November 17, 2023
The Cultural Council for Palm Beach County is poised to provide more funding for Palm Beach County’s arts and cultural sector over the next 12 months than it has at any single point in its 46-year history.
At the opening reception on November 16 for its Fall exhibition “Whimsy & Wonder,” Cultural Council President & CEO Dave Lawrence announced its Year of Extraordinary Support, or YES!, to a crowd of over 150 guests. The YES! campaign is the culmination of planning and the creation of new funding initiatives supported by the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners, Palm Beach County Tourist Development Council, the Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation, and individual philanthropists that combined total nearly $10.6 million to support the cultural sector in Palm Beach County.
“Supporting the cultural sector is absolutely essential – now more than ever. The arts and culture community drives economic impact, supports thousands of jobs, and contributes to quality of life in Palm Beach County,” said Lawrence. “We’ve worked diligently this past year to assemble new funding initiatives that provide support and new opportunities for creative professionals and cultural organizations. We are fortunate to have visionary partners to help us provide grants, fellowships, and other support services that will create a ripple effect in Palm Beach County.”
The YES! campaign includes new grants and programs for cultural organizations and creative professionals across all disciplines, as well as increased funding for some existing programs.
Due to the Council’s advocacy efforts and record-high tourism in the county since the pandemic, large and mid-sized cultural organizations who receive Category B and Category CII grants for tourism marketing, funded by hotel bed tax through the Tourist Development Council, will receive over $7 million in total grant funding – an increase of nearly $2 million in the next cycle. Small organizations who receive Category CI grants from the Council for operating support and education programs, funded by ad valorem tax, will receive funds from a pool that was recently increased to $300,000.
The Cultural Council also partnered with Palm Beach County to introduce a new $3 million capital grant program utilizing American Rescue Plan funds. At the November 16 event, the Cultural Council announced eight organizations with grant dollars for infrastructure, capital improvements, and other construction projects through the Palm Beach County Cultural Capital Fund.
The Council is also planning to underwrite an Arts Administrator of Color Fellowship program that will launch later in the year. The purpose of the 10-month program is to amplify new and diverse voices in arts and culture, build a leadership pipeline of arts administrators and graduate students interested in careers in the arts, and provide career enhancement opportunities through a series of workshops, networking, mentoring, and other curricula. Applications will open this summer.
Funding for creative professionals is equally strong. During the reception, Lawrence also announced that applications are now open for a third round of the Council’s groundbreaking Artist Innovation Fellowship program. This program provides $7,500 grants to artists across all artistic disciplines to allow artists to explore the creation of new works, conduct research, participate in retreats or workshops, study with master artists in their field, or travel to gain new insight and inspiration for new work. Previous recipients include musician Joshua Lubben (2021); visual artist Isabel Gouveia (2021); choreographer Donna Goffredo Murray (2021); visual artist Anthony Burks, Sr. (2021); visual artist Amy Gross (2021); visual artist Carin Wagner (2022); choreographer Shanique Scott (2022); musician Yvette Norwood-Tiger (2022); visual artist Henriett Michel (2022); visual artist Kianga Jinaki (2022); and actor Elizabeth Dimon (2022).
“This Fellowship is an opportunity for artists to step back, take a breath, and explore,” said Lawrence. “We are grateful to the Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation for providing the funding to expand to 10 Fellowships this year and honor professional artists making a difference here in Palm Beach County.”
Additionally, the Council will introduce an Emerging Artist Prize in the fall that will be open to all artistic disciplines and focused on professional development. Five artists will be paired with Artist Innovation Fellows as mentors and gain access and introductions to cultural organizations, public art professionals and galleries, as well as funding for materials or supplies.
The Cultural Council continues to explore new ways to support the sector and reach new organizations and artists. Tapped to help in this effort are three new Artist Ambassadors commissioned by the Cultural Council, including musician Lindsey Mills; actor and performance artist Autumn Kioti; and writer and spoken word artist Desiree Reavis. Each subject matter expert will receive a stipend and provide valuable insight and resources in their respective discipline. The Cultural Council will build a section on its new website as a repository for these resources to assist artists throughout Palm Beach County with toolkits, links, and other important information that can be shared with the sector.
These new programs and funding initiatives were informed by a county-wide Cultural Sector Needs Assessment Survey that was completed by the Council in 2022. The project included an online survey and a series of in-person focus groups held around the county, which drew more than 520 qualified respondents. The results found that the top needs of artists included career support, assistance with generating income, funding to offset the cost of doing business, and meaningful networking. Top needs of cultural organizations included funding, board recruitment and management, staffing, audience development, and assistance with equity, diversity and inclusion.
To harness the excitement of Yes! and provide an opportunity to broaden the initiatives and provide even more funding to organizations and artists, the Council will unveil the Yes! Fund in January. Arts patrons, philanthropists, and corporate partners will have a way to join in the extraordinary support for the sector by contributing to the YES! Fund.
“By making a gift to the YES! Fund, you are helping to strengthen and grow our vibrant cultural sector,” Lawrence said. “We invite residents and businesses to join us in saying ‘YES!’ and making this the time that we provide more resources, more aid, and more support to cultural organizations and creative professionals in our community.”
For those who would like to help the Cultural Council’s work go even further, the YES! Fund will directly support many of the Cultural Council’s initiatives. Details can be found on the Council’s website at palmbeachculture.com/yes
Linnea Bailey (561) 713-0673