City of Urbana Arts Grants Program

As Public Arts Coordinator for the City of Urbana, I administered the Urbana Arts Grants Program, which invest $50,000 annually in artists, arts organizations, schools, and festivals to create community-based projects accessible to all Urbana residents, such as arts-producing and presenting organizations, artists service organizations, community arts education programs and schools. In managing this program my responsibilities included: consulting with potential applicants, conducting the annual selection process to facilitate group decisions, providing proposal comments, monitoring project contracts, responding to grantee questions, concerns, and requests for modification; maintaining a grants database; reviewing final reports; and approving payment of grant funds. To get the word out about the program, provide education, and solicit more applications, I developed and presented informational grant workshops in collaboration with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Parkland College, and the Independent Media Center (a local community center). In addition, to further support artists and arts organizations in the area, I worked closely with Illinois’ state art agency, the Illinois Arts Council, to provide in-person and online professional development opportunities for artists. Finally, I was responsible for yearly program evaluation and assessment, combining feedback from applicants, grantees, reviewers, City Council members, Commission members, and the community to determine changes for the next year. I used surveys, site visits, and in-person meetings to generate yearly reports that I could then compare year-to-year to determine if the program was meeting Commission and City goals. In response to negative feedback about the grant application system, I launched a research process to identify a more efficient system that streamlined the application process for both applicants and reviewers, resulting in an increase in applications in the following years.

Recipients included programs like “Outta the Mouths of Babes,” a free youth program where kids become radio correspondents to comment on local arts and culture community events; “In Urbana, I…,” a project by artist Philip Hartigan in which he asked people in the community to complete this phrase on a white board as he took their photograph, culminating in a public installation at the Urbana Free Library and a book; and Urbana Land Arts, an art and design collective who created a public art installation called Allman’s Boneyard/Saline that transformed an unused automotive repair garage into a multimedia installation in homage to local waterways.

Urbana Land Arts’ “Allman’s Boneyard/Saline”