Funding Matters 2

IMG_2231Since 1998 (the earliest year for which we have data), the Medford Arts Council has allocated funding to at least 763 proposals including school field trips. In this same time period, we reviewed at least 930 applications, but the actual number is greater, although unavailable, because in some years we did not include denied applications in our reporting to the Massachusetts Cultural Council (denied applications may be reported, but do not have to be). The total amount of money awarded to the funded proposals that are included in the following charts is $505,676. The information provided in these graphics is intended to give a rough sketch of our grantmaking to date.

Our funding serves many disciplines.

As a Local Cultural Council, we award grants for proposals in the humanities and interpretive sciences as well as the arts. If we aggregate the proposals that we have funded into these broad categories, we can see how they have fared relative to each other in our history of grantmaking. “Experiential” is an additional category that has been created for this analysis in order to designate cultural programs such as festivals, open studios, and other multidisciplinary (or non-disciplinary) events intended for large audiences. Experiential programs tend to have a significant arts component to them, but we believe it is illuminating to quantify them separately from arts programs that are dedicated to a single discipline. It is important to note that the data for school field trips are included in all of these charts. This is significant because in some categories or disciplines, such as “Science” or “History,” many if not most of the applications that we have reviewed are for field trip grants.

Funded Proposals by Category

Please bear in mind that these percentages are not quotas, and do not necessarily reflect the funding priorities of the Medford Arts Council—rather, the percentages are the outcome of the application input that we have received from 1998 through 2015.

In the following chart, we break down the larger categories of “Arts” and “Humanities” into smaller segments in order to provide more detail regarding the relative weights of the primary disciplines in the overall picture of the cultural programming we have considered. “History” includes cultural heritage programs, and “Literature” includes literacy and reading programs.

Funded proposals by discipline

These are only approximate values and by necessity rely occasionally on incomplete information and our judgment as to which discipline is a best fit for proposals that are either ambiguously recorded or by nature multidisciplinary. We should also keep in mind that the retrospective outcomes illustrated in these charts pertain only to funded proposals (since unfunded proposals were not fully reported in all years). One disappointing finding is how few proposals in the area of literature (broadly conceived) have been funded, especially given that the humanities are one of the core disciplinary categories that we intend to support, and that Medford has a significant population of writers and scholars among its residents.

In the next chart, we have arranged the primary disciplines in descending order according to the total amount of funds allocated to them by the Medford Arts Council over the years. Going clockwise from “experiential” programs (festivals, open studios, etc.), we can see which disciplines of cultural practice have received the most total funding from our grant program and which disciplines have received the least.

Total dollars by discipline

Not surprisingly, we have allocated the most money over time to those disciplines for which we have considered the most applications. In addition, the more expensive kinds of cultural practice, such as festivals, concerts, and plays, tend to serve large audiences or to involve admission fees or to have more substantial requirements for technical assistance and costly infrastructure; in turn, applications for them tend to include larger budgets. This helps to account for why the top three disciplines in this chart are experiential, music, and theater. There may also be varying traditions of compensation in the arts: do poets, historians, musicians, and arts instructors, for instance, charge differently for their time in order to share their expertise at a publicly funded event? This is an interesting question that our analysis cannot resolve.

Back to MAC Funding History / Forward to Grant Consumers.