Inspiration abounds in new fiscal year
While Jan. 1 signals the beginning of a new year, July 1 kicks off the Montana Arts Council (MAC) fiscal year. At this writing, we are just back from an engaging Council meeting in Lewistown. With only two a year, this meeting was packed with weighty business.
The Council approved the FY 2020 budget, acted on grant funding recommendations, and made important decisions for programs and services. With its diverse mix of perspectives, the Council is committed to the mission and dedicated to making the best decisions for the people of Montana.
Heading into the new fiscal year, MAC is inspired. Governor Bullock is considering the recommendations for the next Poet Laureate, and we are anxious for his announcement. The Montana Artreprenuer Program will establish new learning cohorts this summer. Artist’s Innovation Awards, accepting applications this fall, will embrace the fluid interaction of artistic fields by moving away from restrictive discipline categories. Folk arts programs, chiefly the Montana Circle of American Masters, will benefit from additional funding from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA.)
Congress’s budgetary increase to the NEA translated into an extra 1% in MAC’s annual Partnership Agreement. The small uptick makes a big difference in MAC’s bottom line. With state funds for next biennium only increasing as required by law, MAC is struggling to keep up with demand. In one grant program, 30% of the applicant pool was first-time submissions. MAC is walking a fine line to maintain consistent funding to established institutions while investing in budding programming.
Gratitude for Montana’s robust offerings
As this issue demonstrates, the arts are thriving in Montana. It is especially evident in the glorious summer when we are out enjoying our communities and resources. As you take in the highlighted events, pay attention to who is making them possible. Notice the sponsors and donors that share your values for arts, entertainment and engagement. Appreciation and patronage keep the cycle of support viable.
Pay attention to Montana’s investments as well, be it through MAC, the Office of Tourism, or Montana State Parks. Communicate to your elected officials when it matches your priorities and why. Most of all, appreciate the staff and volunteers. Much like my Council, they are committed to doing the best for the people of Montana.