Mugs produced by Soos Creek Studio in Kent. COURTESY PHOTO, Soos Creek Studio

Mugs produced by Soos Creek Studio in Kent. COURTESY PHOTO, Soos Creek Studio

Three Kent art groups receive ArtsFund, Paul Allen foundation grants

Soos Creek Studio, Greater Kent Historical Society and Rainier Youth Choirs get money

Three arts groups in the Kent area will receive grants from $3,400 to $25,000 from Seattle-based ArtsFund and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.

Soos Creek Studio in Kent will receive $25,000; Greater Kent Historical Society will get $5,900; and Rainier Youth Choirs will receive $3,400.

A total of 671 groups across the state will receive money as part of the Community Accelerator Grant, according to an April 4 ArtsFund news release. The program provides over $10 million with grants from $2,500 to $25,000. The distribution comes just six months after the partnership was announced, in response to the continued sector need.

Funding will provide essential resources to Washington organizations whose primary mission is to produce or support arts and culture activities, according to the news release. The unrestricted funding will boost arts organizations’ ability to invest in their missions and essential roles serving communities across the state.

“We are so proud to highlight the breadth and depth of Washington’s rich cultural landscape, and celebrate the leadership and vision of the Paul G Allen Family Foundation in funding this program,” said Michael Greer, ArtsFund CEO and president. “Our hope is that their philanthropy inspires others to continue to invest in this sector, and see how possible it is to make an investment that is meaningful, equitable and expeditious.”

Grants were awarded to every eligible organization that applied, with an average award of $14,909. The total funding pool of $10 million responds to approximately two-thirds of total requested funds. Nearly 70% of the grantees reported annual budgets of less than $500,000. Organizations in 35 of Washington’s 39 countries are included.

Soos Creek Studio, in Kent, produces pottery. According to the company’s website, “We create pottery that highlight the earth-friendly nature of ceramics, and to further explore its use as part of a sustainable practice. We do this through the sharing of pottery and food from the diverse cultures for a more inclusive community.”

The Greater Kent Historical Society operates the Kent Museum and inspires the community to explore and discover their history, according to its website.

Rainier Choirs draws singers from south King County. Rehearsals are on Monday nights, September through June, at Cedar Heights Middle School in Covington. Two ‘main-stage’ concerts are presented in December and May in Kent.

The Community Accelerator Grant program prioritized funding to communities that are underrepresented in other funding programs – specifically, in rural communities, and for BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and people with disabilities, according to the news release. The application was designed to be low-barrier, with the goal that no organizations would find it too complicated, or that the information requested was too cumbersome. All eligible applicants received a grant.

Applicants were asked to what degree they felt that this grant might positively impact their ability to build capacity and increase their sustainability. Organizations reported anticipating an additional $2 raised for every $1 of their grant. Representation of priority populations was an important consideration for the program. More than half of the grants are to organizations with a minimum 25% BIPOC representation on both board and staff.

ArtsFund considered applications based on a representation of and centering of BIPOC, LGBTQIA+ and people with disabilities, geographic location and on the reported potential impact of the grant on the organizations’ fundraising.

Grant funds are unrestricted and may be used as each organization self-determines. Grant recipients cite the top uses for funding, in order of priority, include salaries and labor; programming; rent, mortgage and facility upgrades; personal protective equipment and COVID preparedness; and communications and marketing, with more than 80% of organizations citing salaries and labor, and programming as their top needs.

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