The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced its first round of funding recommendations for the 2022 fiscal year last week.
There are 13 Kentucky-based organizations among the groups recommended to receive funding. Some of their leaders said the funding is pivotal to continue and expand their work.
These are the Kentucky organizations that could receive NEA grants:
- Western Kentucky University
- City of Frankfort, Kentucky
- Josephine Sculpture Park Inc.
- Appalachian Artisan Center of Kentucky, Inc.
- Hindman Settlement School, Inc.
- African American Forum, Inc.
- Lexington Children’s Theatre, Inc.
- Actors Theatre of Louisville, Inc.
- Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Inc.
- Louisville Orchestra, Inc.
- Sarabande Books, Inc.
- Appalshop, Inc.
Altogether, the NEA could give more than $200,000 in funding to Kentucky arts organizations. The agency recommended granting Sarabande Books with $30,000, the highest level.
Sarabande Books is a nonprofit literary press based in Louisville. It publishes works including poetry, fiction, and essays.
“The funding that the NEA offers us each year is able to help fund these projects from acquisition to production to marketing so really the whole gambit of everything we’re able to do with distributing these books,” said Joanna Englert, Sarabande’s director of marketing and publishing.
Englert said that, of the 300 works Sarabande has published since 1994, the NEA’s funding has helped with two-thirds of those titles.
The funding from the NEA not only helps with publishing costs but also ensures that authors have the resources necessary to promote their work, she said.
Englert said that book tours and in-person author readings have been affected by the pandemic.
The Kentucky Shakespeare Festival plans to use its funding to promote up-and-coming writers through a new program called Community Creates, producing artistic director for the festival Matt Wallace said.
“Over four extended residencies with community organization partners, our artist facilitators will be working with them to create their own piece inspired by Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest,” Wallace said.
Those artists will go on to present their works during the pre-performance portion of this summer’s Shakespeare in the Park shows.
“When you’re working with professional theater artists we need money to execute the program, so the fact that the NEA believed in this program, this idea, means it’s gonna happen,” said Wallace. “Most of these funds are going to employ local artists who are often financially fragile.”
Both Wallace and Englert said they see the importance of continuing to fund arts programs, even with the pandemic shutting things down.
“I really think as we emerge from these past two years, we need the arts to connect and to remember what it is to be human,” Wallace said.