Guest post by karen Krolak, co-Artistic Director of Monkeyhouse
One of my canine collaborators is softly snoring in the predawn darkness as I wrestle with insomnia on the day that addenda: an exercise course from the Dictionary of Negative Space opens at Stove Works. In between obsessing over details that I can tweak in the next 12 hours, I return to reflecting on one question: Did anyone really think that a $500 Local Cultural Council (LCC) grant from Newton, MA could propel a choreographer from Malden to present a visual art exhibit at a former casket factory in Chattanooga, TN?
Ever since the turn of the millennium when Monkeyhouse dancers decked out in orange wigs and striped tights hopped into a van to tour fringe festivals, we have been mastering the art of stretching every nickel, dime and dollar we could fundraise. Our long term donors appreciate our ability to leverage their donations to fuel ambitious ideas. Within days of the start of the pandemic lockdowns, for example, Monkeyhouse was offered a catalytic grant from the Miner Nagy Family Gift Fund. When they contacted us, they asked us how we would use the funding to support as many artists and organizations in the dance ecosystem as possible. We quickly described how we would pivot our programming and focus on collaborative solutions. Mentoring is embedded into each project we have initiated through our subsequent Covid Collaborations. To date we have advised over 135 artists on how to navigate this unique period of uncertainty in the performing arts.
“Have you applied for an LCC grant before?” is generally how I catapult into conversations about grant writing with local choreographers. In my humble opinion every artist in our commonwealth can benefit by applying for this gateway grant. People are frequently surprised because either they have never heard of LCC grants or because they assume the grants will be too small to fund a new dance concert. Learning to write a strong proposal for an LCC, though, can help artists to gain grant writing confidence and to engage with the communities where they want to work. Once I explain how a Newton LCC grant allowed me to realize a strange dream to become the first, official artist in residence at the Newton Cemetery and Arboretum after reading about the organization in a job listing on HireCulture in August 2018, however, most artists are already brainstorming plans to apply.
Research time for creatives often seems out of reach but LCC grants only require a public event not a new piece. In preparing my Newton LCC, I was not really sure how I would use information from interviews with cemetery employees or how long it would take to develop new entries for the Dictionary of Negative Space. So I led a tour of the cemetery where I could share my research. When I emphasize all the opportunities that sprang from my residency at Newton Cemetery, e.g. a 2022 Live Arts Boston grant with Monkeyhouse, presenting at academic conferences in Korea, the UK, the US, and India, and my solo show at Stove Works, it becomes clear that LCC grants can transform your personal creative practice – no matter which discipline(s) you work within. Similarly, Jessica Roseman developed her signature Nourish project through an artist residency at the Lexington Community Farm. By offering to hold workshops for movers of all ages and abilities on her LCC applications to the Lexington Cultural Council and Arlington Cultural Council in 2020, she made the case that Arlington residents would benefit from attending her outdoor movement classes in a neighboring town which increased her overall budget. Those grants provided seeds of ideas that blossomed into three new solo performances this year for the ICA, ArtAssembled, and Now + There. Jess’s success with Nourish inspired Christopher Croucher to approach communities around the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge for a project rooted in ballet. He applied for LCC grants in Sudbury, Maynard, Marlborough, and Concord to build a budget big enough to create Letting the Land Lead: Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge in 2022.
LCC grants are offered in every town and city in Massachusetts and are usually due around October 15 annually. This year the deadline is October 17 so we get a few extra days if you are a procrastinator who submits everything at the last minute. If you have never typed up a grant before, want help figuring out a budget, or just need an accountability buddy, you are in luck. Thanks to yet another LCC grant, this one from the Somerville Arts Council, Monkeyhouse is offering a free Buttress Grant Writing Mentoring session on Saturday, October 8th in the auditorium at Somerville Public Library, 79 Highland Ave, Somerville, from 1-4pm. For more information go to www.monkeyhouselovesme.com.
Credit: Jason Ries. karen Krolak stands beside the historic baths in Bath, England at a reception for the 14 International conference on the Social Context of Death Dying and Disposal in Bath in 2019. She is holding a smaller version of the umbrella that she built for her tour of the Newton Cemetery. On the crocheted strands that dangle from the umbrella, people have attached tags with the names of beings who did not make it to the realm of public memory after death.
Credit Jason Ries. karen Krolak stops in front of a mausoleum as she leads a tour of the Newton Cemetery in 2019. She is holding an oversize umbrella frame covered with strands of crocheted green yarn. Tags hang from the strands that hold the names of beings who did not make it to the realm of public memory after death that were written by participants on the tour.
Credit karen Krolak. A handwritten tag hangs on a stand of crocheted green yarn. It was written by someone at the opening of addenda: an exercise course from the Dictionary of Negative Space at Stove Works in Chattanooga, TN. The tag reads, The receptionist at my therapist’s office’s husband.