Our funding analysis concludes with a look at the primary constituencies in Medford who have been served by our grant program. As with our other information graphics, the following charts are based on a recent interpretation of data submitted to the state over many years, as well as our careful judgments about how specific projects should be categorized. The intention here is to give our stakeholders a multifaceted overview of our grantmaking history, and a general sense of scale for the cultural needs and interests in our city as viewed through the particular lens of our grant program. Since these charts only encompass activities that have passed through our grant application process, they can only tell a very incomplete story about the strength and diversity of arts and culture in Medford.
Our grant program serves many people.
The Medford Arts Council pays attention to the age groups that are served by our grantmaking, and in our annual review process, we take into account whether proposals are intended for children under the age of 19 (“kids”), seniors, or all ages. The bar chart below displays the ratios of total granted dollars in these categories in individual years beginning with 2005 (that is, after the dramatic increase and then downturn in our budgets in the years immediately prior). Grants for school field trips (shown in purple bars at the top of the chart) are indicated separately because there is a separate state application and a separate local review process for them. But in fact the purple field trip bars pertain to the same demographic category – Kids – indicated by the green bars just below them. This is one of the reasons that we capped total field trip allocations at 7% of our annul grant budget several years ago.
Our next chart rolls up these granted dollars to show how they have been distributed across the three homemade demographic categories that we consider in our review process.
It may be reasonable to assume that kids and seniors also benefit proportionally from funded projects serving all ages. In any case, kids benefit disproportionately from our grant program given their much smaller demographic representation in the city’s population (less than 17% in the 2010 U.S. census). By contrast, over the years the Medford Arts Council has received relatively few proposals intended to serve adults between the ages of 20 and 54 with programming that is not oriented around activities for families. This adult audience seems to be underserved by our grant program, and we encourage the submission of more applications for projects seeking to engage it.
It is important to keep in mind that the grant funding we give out is a function of the applications that we receive. So if we look at the number of funded proposals in the same grant years of 2005 to 2015, we get a better idea for why the funding has been distributed in the proportions indicated above.
Projects for kids tend to be less expensive compared to many projects in the “All Ages” category, especially the large scale “experiential” events such as festivals and concerts; this difference in cost helps explain why the chart above indicates that we have funded a larger share of applications for children’s programming (51%) than might be predicted from looking only at the “Kids” green segment (43%) in the previous chart showing total funding. In addition, Medford’s schools and public library are important stakeholders and experienced clients of our grant program, and submit many applications each year for programming specifically intended for children.
If we combine our high-level analyses of the primary constituencies (or “consumers”) and the primary disciplines served by our grant program, we can begin to see in more detail some basic features of the impact of our work across different areas of Medford’s creative community. In the two tables below, which cover the same large set of proposals, we have introduced three additional consumer categories—Families, Individuals, and Organizational—to help provide a more refined picture of our grantmaking. “Families” designates consumers of activities specifically intended for parents and their children to experience together. “Individuals” and “Organizational” designate consumers of grant funding that is given for professional development, capacity building, or capital projects; in other words, the proposals tabulated in the “Individuals” and “Organizational” function more like new investments in Medford’s creative community or the infrastructure of our cultural organizations rather than salary or stipends for applicants carrying out a specific public program.
These tables may look like they provide very precise tabulations, but they should be treated more as a “rough and ready” sorting. These are not audits so much as trend indicators. Therefore, what is important in the tables is not the specific numbers (which are approximations based on limited information) but the general pattern that emerges regarding proposals and grant funding. It should be noted that the charts’ total numbers for funded proposals – 713 – and allocated dollars – $479,121 – are slightly less than the total numbers for our entire data set because there are a few proposals (less than 7%) that either cannot be categorized due to lack of information, or fall outside of the primary disciplinary categories used in our analysis.
We hope that the information provided in this report on “Funding Matters” is helpful to interested members of Medford’s creative community. The grant program of the Medford Arts Council can only respond to those proposals that it receives during its annual fall application window. We look forward to considering a diverse application pool in the future, and to continuing our work of supporting the humanities, interpretive sciences, arts, and creative economy in our city.