Arts Assets

Arts Assets

A pilot program will seek to elevate and connect artists through grants and professional development, further enhancing Northwest Arkansas’ cultural scene, representatives of the program said April 9.

Artists 360 is a partnership between the Walton Family Foundation, which provided a grant from brothers Steuart and Tom Walton, and Mid-America Arts Alliance, which will implement the program.

The program will provide $439,500 and professional development services to 60 artists over three years, according to officials. Twenty artists will be selected each year. Practicing artists are eligible for $7,500 project grants, and student artists are eligible for $1,500 project grants.

The impetus of the program came from the acknowledgement of the work of Northwest Arkansas cultural institutions but also noting the scarcity of resources for individual artists, said Liz Alsina, senior program officer with the Walton Family Foundation.

“If artists are the foundation of a creative ecosystem, how are they being supported locally?” she said. “Artist 360 was our attempt to begin to answer that for the greater Northwest Arkansas region.”

Alsina and Lisa Cordes, director of artist services and Artist Inc. at Mid-America Arts Alliance, explained the program to about 40 artists and community leaders April 9 at the Bentonville Public Library.

“We really looked at this as a program that’s about developing the artist in this area but also growing the community and expanding the influence of this region,” Cordes said.

The program’s core value is access and it’s designed toward inclusion, Alsina said.

It’s open to artists who reside or are an art student in an institution in Benton, Carroll, Crawford, Sebastian and Washington counties.

Types of art accepted include visual, performing, literary and traditional arts. Project categories include touring projects, works in progress projects, creative research and professional advancement projects, and social practice projects.

The program seeks to create a network of artists and promote them and their work in Northwest Arkansas as well as across the county, Cordes said.

Participants will be required to attend a weekend retreat where facilitated peer-to-peer learning will take place, she added.

There’s so much possibility of a cohort of artists, Cordes said, explaining when artists go through a professional development, their experience doesn’t stay within that group.

“Those artists will go out and make opportunities for other artists,” she said. “It has a real multipler effect.”

Applications open May 1 and are due July 16. The first cohort will be announced this fall.

Attendees asked questions for about a half hour after the presentation. Many questions focused on technical aspects and logistics of the program.

Jenni Taylor Swain, founder of Potluck Arts, said the program is an extraordinary gift to the community.

“Really for a long time not enough has been focused on the artist, the individual artist,” she said. “It’s nice to see that beginning to change.”

Many Northwest Arkansas artists often can’t take advantage of larger grants to larger institutions because they aren’t associated with them, said John Lasater, Siloam Springs-based Plein Air painter, after the event.

Artists 360 will offer financial support and provide exposure, he said.

“There’s a lot of practicing artists that just aren’t see here,” he said.



Artists 360

Upcoming Events

Artists 360 will host a series of workshops for artists. Workshops will be in Bentonville, Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Eureka Springs, Rogers, Siloam Springs and Springdale.

Those scheduled include:

• 7 p.m. April 26 at Rogers Experimental House, 121 Walnut St.

• 3 p.m. April 29 at John Brown University, 2000 W. University St. in Siloam Springs.

• 6 p.m. May 30 at Fayetteville Public Library, 401 W. Mountain St.

• 6:30 p.m. June 4 at 21c Museum Hotel, 200 N.E. A St. in Bentonville.


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