Another reason; there isn’t very much money to go around. The Arts & Humanities Touring Directory had $57,621 to award in grants last year. When the granting process opens, usually in early September, it goes fast to those who have figured out what they want, when they want it, and how they’re going to pay for the other 60% of the cost of the program. So, knowing about it helps a lot.
The next cycle for the Arts & Humanities Touring Grants will open in early November, 2014. The events awarded in this cycle must occur between Dec. 1, 2014 and August 2015. www.michiganhumanities.org
Then there is TIME, say my teacher and librarian friends. “I haven’t got the time to research and write grants,” they protest. Budget cuts have made all of them do more with not only less money, but less time, as their responsibilities have been increased in the face of staffing cuts. Then there is the students’ time: “Do I dare take an hour away from instructional time, so the students can watch a play about John and Abigail Adams? How does this fit in with curriculum goals?”
This is where I begin to get on my soap box! An hour out of the school year for students to see American history presented through live theatre? In a country where studies have shown that about 20% of the population thinks we won our independence from China!
Live theatre, folks! A script written by a Michigan playwright using primary sources! Primary sources, folks! That’s John and Abigail’s actual words taken from their letters and diaries and put into dialogue; not a fictionalized, made-for-TV movie ‘based’ on their lives - their lives! Brought to you in living color! By living, breathing actors, who have studied their characters; by reading the biographies, the letters, and the abundance of critical works written on this most extraordinary of American couples. John was the second President of the United States, Abigail was First Lady and together they not only lived through and influenced one of the most critical times in this Nation’s founding, but also parented John Quincy Adams - our country’s sixth president.
Now, more on that ‘live theatre’ element: making history come alive makes us cross-disciplinary. We are Arts and Humanities! We love sharing this story with all ages; we love answering questions about history and theatre! Also more on the ‘budget cuts’ problem: students don’t get to experience live theatre often enough because buses cost too much to bring them to the theatre on a field trip, and theatre departments in schools have been cut or eliminated. Our program is very affordable - the one act version of this show, which is pretty much, “just the history - no mushy stuff” starts at just $200 in Kent County.
We felt that keeping our price reasonable would make it accessible to more people. We were thrilled to be a part of the Arts & Touring Directory; and it was hard work to be included. We had to fill out a detailed application, pay an application fee, and send a 10 minute video of a live performance to be a part of this juried selection of 175 arts and cultural performers and artists. The time to apply again for the next directory will be coming up soon. Yes, we have to apply every three years - getting into the directory one time does not guarantee we’ll get in again. But, it seems perhaps it isn’t worth the time, effort, and money for us to go through the process again, because so few organizations close to home seem to be taking advantage of the Directory’s services and grants.
But, then again... NOW you know about it and this year, there is still time to get who you want, GEM Theatrics, and when you want us. Apply for the grant and get the free money! You, and your patrons or students, will be glad you did!