FY2010/FY2011 Operating Grantees Meeting New Challenges:
New Hampshire Art Association, Portsmouth, NH - $6,200
Sharon Arts Center, Peterborough, NH - $12,000
Operating Grants are awarded biannually to arts and cultural organizations and represent the State Arts Council’s commitment to building and maintaining a healthy arts infrastructure in the state. Operating grants are matched 10:1 by private funds and thus represent a modest investment that ensures that the arts are a vital part of community life.
Grant guidelines emphasize the importance of administrative excellence, strategic planning and meeting the needs of underserved communities. In addition to assuring the State Arts Council that their facilities meet the Americans with Disabilities Act standards for physical access, Operating grantees are challenged to be innovative in their approach to providing high quality art experiences designed to remove barriers, enhance accessibility through multi-sensory programming, and to raise awareness of the need for accessibility to fine art.
Two current Operating grantees took on the particular challenge of mounting visual arts exhibits for the sight-impaired and blind. Both organizations worked in collaboration with the New Hampshire Association for the Blind and with artists who not only participated but came up with creative and dynamic solutions. Their efforts are inspirational and so we share them with you here.
In 2009, the New Hampshire Arts Association mounted “Art Beyond Sight” at the Robert Levy Gallery in Portsmouth. Over 47 artists contributed works to the exhibit, which ran for the entire month of April and attracted over 4,000 visitors.
In 2010, the Sharon Arts Center mounted “Art With Feeling” at their downtown Peterborough gallery. Over 25 artists contributed works to the exhibit, which ran for seven weeks and attracted over 2,100 visitors.
Both exhibits put out a call to artists requiring the artwork be touchable. A wide range of paintings, collage, sculptures and bas-relief were submitted illustrating the full range of creative solutions that artists are capable of. In both exhibits, artwork was labeled with Braille identification cards and volunteers were available to provide verbal descriptions of the works to visitors with limited or no sight.
Billie Tooley, executive director of the NHAA noted that “Art Beyond Sight demonstrated how artists and community can work together effectively—in this case, helping to bridge the gap of understanding of how art can be made accessible to those in our society who are blind and have low-vision issues. It was a truly fine example of how art can meet need.”
For more information on meeting the needs of sight-impaired and the blind, visit the website of the New Hampshire Association for the Blind at: www.sightcenter.org
The arts are making a difference in communities throughout New Hampshire.
For more information on things to do and enjoy in New Hampshire, visit our calendars section.
Learn more about State Arts Council grants and program services.
November 10, 2010