HEADS UP: Guidelines could get stricter for city art money

Heads Up is a weekly column previewing city government meetings in Grand Forks. 

Last week, I told you the operation of two city programs are under the Grand Forks City Council’s microscope.

The Art Re-Grant Program caused a stir back in March when council members raised concerns over where the city money involved in the program was going.

The purpose of the program is to pass on money in the form of grants through the North Valley Arts Council to organizations with arts-based missions. The money used for these grants comes from sales tax.

For a number of years, the NoVAC committee charged with reviewing the grant applications gave money to organizations with art programs but that wouldn’t be considered art organizations.

List of organizations and amount of funding received from the Arts Re-Grant Program for 2012-2013. Highlighted organizations do not have arts-based missions. Photo credit: North Valley Arts Council.

The application’s eligibility requirements state, “The mission of the applicant organization must directly pertain to arts and culture.”

Recipients of money in March that raised concern with the council were a nursing home, a mental health recovery center, a historical society and two organizations focused on providing services for the physically and developmentally disabled.

At last week’s Finance and Development Committee meeting, council members said they want the committee to stick to the eligibility requirements as stated.

That recommendation will be voted on at the council’s meeting tonight.

The second program under review, the Down Payment and Closing Cost Assistance Program, will likely be discontinued based off recommendations from city staff and a Board of Realtors task force.

You can catch up on that program’s predicament in this blog post, published last week.

The City Council meeting begins tonight at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers of City Hall.

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