It’s raining grants

The city released its list of winners of $500,000 in grants for the Creative Economy Pilot Program

Allison S. Joe speaking in Oak Park.

Allison S. Joe speaking in Oak Park.

Photo by Rebecca Huval

A motley crowd of about a hundred artists, food enthusiasts and tinkerers huddled outside of Brickhouse Art Gallery on Monday morning to learn more about the $500,000 in grants they had just received from the city. Near Mayor Darrell Steinberg stood a gardener with a bouquet of handpicked wildflowers and a comic book artist wearing heart-shaped sunglasses atop his eye glasses.

Ever since applications closed for the Creative Economy Pilot Program at the end of July, the 481 applicants asking for a total of $7 million had been crossing their fingers. The call for grants asked for cultural projects “that stimulate economic development and activity, as well as social impact.”

Last week, winners were invited to watch the mayor speak in Oak Park. In total, 57 projects were funded, a 12 percent acceptance rate.

“I know there are some people in some groups that didn’t get grants in this round, who may be disappointed, understandably,” Steinberg said. “The granting of $500,000 represents the beginning—and not the end—of our investing in arts, entrepreneurship, innovation and the food culture here in Sacramento.”

Those winners this round received grants ranging from roughly $5,000 to $25,000. They include Danielle Vincent’s First Festival, which features local musicians and artists ($25,000), the 5th Annual Sacramento Black Book Fair ($10,000) and Oak Park Food Collective ($5,000), just as a sample. Most were local, but Sofar Sounds, a for-profit company headquartered in London, was awarded $25,000. Sacramento real estate manager Chinua Rhodes is listed as the recipient of Sofar Sounds’ grant.

Many of the grantees in Oak Park said they were jazzed.

Eben Burgoon, the comic book artist wearing the heart-shaped glasses, received $5,000 to create eight free comic book workshops at a school in each city district.

“The arts are a lot of times tragically underfunded,” Burgoon said, “and it finally feels like the city at least is gonna go, ‘Hey, arts matter and a lot of diverse voices matter, too. It’s not just downtown and the arena. It’s all over the city.’”

Grant recipient The Red Museum had previously struggled with getting its music-and-arts venue up to city code. After temporarily shutting down this summer, it has since been given guidance by the city to meet safety requirements—and now, $5,000 to put on 18 art events in its warehouse space.

“Being in the art community, we know a ton of people with great ideas that applied, so hopefully like they said in the speeches, this is a catalyst,” said Red Museum organizer Jennifer Jackson. “And once the community sees what a big difference $500,000 can make, there will be more funding for these kinds of efforts.”

Allison S. Joe, chief of staff in the city of Sacramento, said she wasn’t sure when her office would put out another call for cultural grants.

“A lot of them were really fundable, there just weren’t enough funds,” she said. “So that’s the next step, is to get more funds.”