Millions in grant money set aside to support Delaware arts

 (Nichelle Polston/WHYY)

(Nichelle Polston/WHYY)

Nearly $3 million in grants will be awarded to 109 arts initiatives, ranging from art education to art programs and services, thanks to the Delaware Division of the Arts. The money is expected to benefit roughly 23 communities in all three counties for fiscal year 2014.

Earlier this year, a newly created Delaware Arts Trust Fund recognized the arts as an economic driver that could strengthen Delaware’s public sector support for the arts. Officials said they believe the state can achieve the national average of 8 percent of the revenue for nonprofit arts organizations if arts initiatives get the right kind of support. The Department of State and Joint Finance Committee, along with Gov. Jack Markell’s office, are all on board with the investment and acknowledge the economic benefits at both the state and local level.

“We understand that investment in the cultural life of our communities strengthens our economy, attracts and retains businesses and provides a valuable resource to our students,” Markell said. “A vibrant cultural community supports an enhanced quality of life for all of us, as well as a thriving tourism industry for our visitors.”

The total amount being awarded to the Division of the Arts is $2.9 million, which came from the Delaware General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts.

“The state’s investment in the arts makes good business sense because the industry plays a critical role in Delaware’s economy,” Secretary of State Jeff Bullock said. “As one of the state’s top 10 employers, we know that Delaware’s nonprofit arts sector generates more than $142 million annually in economic activity in the state and supports nearly 3,900 full-time equivalent jobs.”

Meanwhile, a full list of the grant awards shows the wide variety of programs and organizations that the division is supporting as a result of the funds.

“A record number of applicants in this year’s funding cycle confirm the ongoing breadth and depth of arts activity in Delaware. The quality of arts programming remains high, at a time when organizations are striving to build sustainable models based on collaboration, innovation and coordinated programming,” said Paul Weagraff, division director.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.