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RDA focuses grant on grassroots art

The Rochester Downtown Alliance and local art groups are backing grassroots artists with a change to a popular grant program.

The RDA announced Friday it would rename its Downtown Cultural Initiatives Grant to "stART-up" funding.

In addition to the name change, a RDA committee has decided the grant funding will no longer be available to institutionalized arts groups and will instead be targeted to grassroots artists.

That decision came from committee members including Megan Johnston, executive director of the Rochester Art Center, and Gregory Stavrou, executive director of the Rochester Civic Theater. The art center has been a regular recipients of Downtown Cultural Initiatives funding, and the civic theater had received it in the past.

"We think these grants should not go to organizations, big organizations. They should go to grassroots artists who just need that first leg-up on that ladder," Johnston told the Post-Bulletin.


The final change to the grant funding program is to establish a regular grant cycle and application deadline, instead of operating the grant program on a rolling application process.

A discussion about arts , artists and having art in Rochester's downtown has been happening in several venues lately, and Johnston said that ongoing conversation spilled into the Downtown Cultural Initiatives committee's work.

The decision to direct stART-up funding to new artists shows the committee's, and the community's art institutions', commitment to bringing new and exciting work downtown, Johnston said.

The RDA has issued Downtown Cultural Initiatives funding since 2013 to create and support first-time events within its 44-block area. In 2016, the alliance has a funding budget of $10,000, said RDA Executive Director Jenna Bowman.

Past recipients include Alliance Française's Bastille Day Celebration and the RedBall Project at Cooke Park Design District.

The program has been successful in forging new relationships with start-up artists and established community partners, Bowman said.

"We're just really excited to build on that and continue to support our local creatives in the community," Bowman said.

The Downtown Cultural Initiatives committee will host an informational workshop Wednesday, March 16, from 12 to 1 p.m. at People's Food Co-op in Rochester. For more information, see downtownrochestermn.com .

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