School cultural project receives Grant.
The Beaver Island Community School has been awarded a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. Alice Belfy and I attended a meeting in Lansing on September 13, where the awards were announced We learned that we were one of only four winners in Charlevoix County, and one of only seventeen Rural Arts and Culture grants state-wide. All grants were reduced by 1%--a much smaller cut than in recent years--bringing the total down to $9,900. This will be matched by the School in monetary and "in kind" support (such as classroom use, teacher participation, donated time, etc.), bringing the budget for the project to almost $20,000.
It was a long wait for the news. Alice first approached me in February, asking if I'd be willing to write a grant request. Mary Jane Martin and I attended an informational meeting in early March in East Jordan. Sponsored by the Michigan State University Museum, 39 counties--designated rural--were eligible to apply. The goal of the program is to strengthen and showcase the unique arts and culture of Michigan's rural communities through community-based collaborations relating to community or regional arts, history, and culture. We listened to the speakers, tossed ideas back and forth, and decided it would be a worthwhile effort.
The decision was not made lightly, as both Mary Jane and I were committed to other jobs, and each of us had plans for spring trips. Neither of us had written a grant before. The deadline was May 1st.
After meeting with Kitty McNamara and Alice and getting the go-ahead, we set aside an afternoon each week to meet. We compared notes, charted our progress, and planned what needed to be accomplished the following week. Staff at the U-M Museum were on call six days a week to answer our questions. Kitty and Alice both offered to help as well. Jim and Donna Stambaugh made themselves available to proof the application.
Still, it often seemed overwhelming. Roughly, the work load was divided into Mary Jane doing the research and documentation while I wrote the proposal. We each made dozens of phone calls, wrote letters, and made drop-in visits, trying to involve as many talented Islanders as possible.
The day before the grant had to go out, Mary Jane and I went over hundreds of pages, refining statements, double-checking figures, and copying everything. Mary Jane was a trooper. One artist's résumé was hand-written on flowered stationary; beautiful, but copies were illegible. She snatched it up and typed it without a second thought. Another artist had gone on vacation without getting a résumé to us. We made phone calls to get our facts straight and created the document ourselves. Every page, form, letter of reference, and résumé had to be copied and collated. Our final package was 54 pages, and we had to make 12 copies. Alice had done much of the typing for us, never complaining when I dropped off hand-written pages filled with erasures and corrections.
Because we finished at the 11th hour, Jim and Donna never had a chance to proof all of the material. Approval by the Board of Education was still pending--it was approved shortly after their next meeting. Then the long wait began.
Now our work has just begun. The project summary follows:
"Grant funds are requested to support a year-long exploration and celebration of who we are as individuals and as members of the Beaver Island community. First, we intend for our schoolchildren to learn the fundamentals of genealogical research, as they track family histories. Involving families and others in the community, we will gather information to provide a clear picture of our diverse ethnic heritage. We'll chart changes in the ancestry of our population over the last 150 years, and study various cultures through their food, customs, music, and art. Second, we will celebrate the rich cultural fabric of Beaver Island today. Through a series of concerts, lectures, and workshops we will showcase the artists, musicians, and craftpersons who have made Beaver Island their home.
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