In FY2016, the Missouri Arts Council hit another new high in our goal of serving every legislative district in the state. Our funded projects between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016 reached 95% of the 163 House districts. This surpassed our previous high of 88% of House districts in FY2015. These projects included Annual and Express grants, Poetry Out Loud, the Missouri Folk Arts Program, and awards from the Missouri Association of Community Arts Agencies and Mid-America Arts Alliance.
The extensive community outreach is largely to a program we began in FY2016, seeking to fill the gaps so that no legislative district is left behind: the Ghost Light Project.
Ghost Light aims to address the key issues that have made the unfunded districts difficult to serve. These districts are either rural and lack their own local arts organizations, or are urban, dense, and adjacent to already funded districts. These districts typically do not have anyone who can even apply for grants.
Therefore, to reach these districts, the Missouri Arts Council is being proactive and providing substantial support. Ghost Light is not a grant, but was a dedicated $10,000 in our FY16 budget that funded the project.
The intent is to streamline the process and make a performance accessible and affordable for communities without a history of productions of performing arts. Our staff is carrying out these steps in the project:
- Identifying chronically underfunded communities
- Working with the state representative to identify potential venues where performances can be presented, such as schools and libraries
- Identifying community partners who can handle local marketing, booking, and logistics
- Soliciting artists in our Missouri Touring Performers directory for proposals to perform in the targeted communities
- Working with performers, community partners, and venues to facilitate the performances
A venerable theater tradition mandates that a solitary bulb—the “ghost light”—must remain lit on stage even when the stage is unused and would otherwise be dark. Similarly, the Ghost Light Project intends to bring creative “light” to those communities that have remained “dark”’ without funding or arts projects.
For more information about the Ghost Light Project, contact Executive Director Michael Donovan, firstname.lastname@example.org, 314-340-4740.