Archive for the ‘grants’ Category

Montgomery County Council Approves $5.6 Million Budget for the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County

Monday, June 10th, 2019

Montgomery County Council has approved a budget of more than $5.6 million for Arts and Humanities Council grants and administration. The resolution for FY20 is as follows:

  • Operating Support Grants: $3,374,941 (flat over FY19)
  • Small/Mid-Size Organizations, Creative Projects, Arts Education, and Individual Artist/Scholar Grants: $854,574 (flat over FY19)
  • Advancement Grants: $295,094 (flat over FY19)
  • Arts and Humanities Matching Fund:  $200,000 (flat over FY19)
  • Grants to Support Wheaton Arts and Entertainment District: $91,815 (flat over FY19)
  • Discretionary Grants: $250,000 (increase over FY19)
  • AHCMC Administration: $556,735 (increase over FY19)
Congratulations to our entire arts and humanities sector. We are thankful for your hard work and dedication to the field. The lives of Montgomery County residents are richer and more creative as a result.

Adapting to Montgomery County’s Blossoming Arts and Cultural Community

Friday, May 31st, 2019

I love spring. That time of budding cherry blossoms, pansies and tulips always makes me smile. But along with the beautiful gardens, my life becomes fraught with the sneezing, watery eyes and stuffy sinuses known to all of us with seasonal allergies. However, I get through it. I adapt to the change in seasons with a combination of self-care and the support of my trusted Zyrtec. Each year, I get just a little better at adapting by adjusting my treatment for the onslaught of old and new allergens, allowing me to enjoy one of my favorite times of year.

You could say, the shift in my springtime behavior supports a basic Darwinian premise: adaptation is critical to survival. When people cannot adapt, they cannot thrive. It seems to me that much of the senseless violence around the world — with no reverence for life — is a rejection of our changing and widening communities and a failure to adapt. Neither violence or denial can refute the fact that our communities are changing, have changed, and will continue to change. While the onslaught of rejection may seem enormous, we also see the fight for equity worldwide is forceful and unrelenting. Change is hard. We may sneeze, but we can adapt. We must.

Part of adapting to new environments involves the collection of data. You have to know you’re treating allergies and not a cold. As public arts funders and united arts funds work to ensure the health, longevity and, relevancy of arts and cultural communities around the world, they are asking questions about their constituents and gathering data about equity, access, and inclusion. Some of these inquiries may not be comfortable to answer. For instance: how can communities find a balance between supporting legacy institutions and art forms while also accelerating the growth of small and midsize groups, art forms and individual artists who are reflecting the changing community interests? Some funders are answering this question through straightforward strategies like proposing to link money to diversity. Others are layering a lens of equity and diversity on their practices and guidelines, impacting how their organizations operate. In Montgomery County, a county dubbed one of the most diverse in the nation, this question is critical. As the landscape of the county and the arts and humanities sector shifts, the funding paradigms must also change and adapt to our expanding community.

This summer, AHCMC will be hosting community listening sessions around the county to hear the needs of our cultural sector. These sessions will inform equity-focused and impact-driven modifications to our guidelines and programs that support the continued growth of an inclusive and holistic portfolio of constituents in Montgomery County. We will be seeking community input and engagement on how AHCMC’s support can:

  • Better foster culturally vibrant and sustainable communities
  • Help organizations develop and engage audiences - placing elders and the next generation of artists, arts leaders, and audiences at the center of their work
  • Promote access, racial equity and diversity
  • Support creativity by building organizational and community capacity
  • Ensure traditionally under-resourced communities have access to arts and humanities programs and institutions
  • Provide professional development offerings that heighten community impact

Your feedback will not only influence policy, but it will also impact the future growth of Montgomery County’s arts and humanities sector. At the end of the day, our goal is to address these critical questions: What are the costs to the community if cultural equity is not supported? And, if the Arts and Humanities Council – the largest area arts funder – does not intentionally cultivate the next generation of diverse arts organizations and audiences, who will? The answers to these questions may very well help us avoid another Ferguson, Parkland, Christchurch New Zealand or any other senseless act of violence tied, at its core, to intolerance.

In Montgomery County we will adapt to our changing community and get a little better at it every year as we enjoy all the seasons in our funding cycle. We look forward to listening, learning and adapting, together with you.

Montgomery County Council Approves the Largest Budget for Arts and Humanities

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

On Thursday, May 25, the Montgomery County Council approved the largest budget for the arts and humanities. The resolution for FY18 is as follows:

  • Operating Support Grants – $3,374,941 ($66,739 over FY17)
  • Small/Mid-Size Organizations, Creative Projects, Arts Education, and Individual Artist/Scholar Grants – $854,574 (increased $75,713 over FY17)
  • Advancement Grants – $295,094 (increased $45,044 over FY17)
  • AHCMC Administration – $540,519 (increased $10,689 over FY17)
  • Arts and Humanities Matching Fund –  $200,000 (flat from FY17)
  • Grants to Support Wheaton Arts and Entertainment District – $91,815 (increased $1,815 over FY17)
  • Grant to National Philharmonic – $150,000 (earmark in line with that of FY17)

Total Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County FY18 NDA $5,506,943

The FY18 budget also includes:

  • Capital Improvement Grants – $800,000*

Congratulations to the entire arts and humanities sector. We thank you for all of your hard work and dedication to the field. Our lives are richer and more creative as a result.



*While $1 million is available for Capital Improvement Grants, demand does not exceed supply in this category. Therefore, in response to a request from the County Council and Office of Management and Budget a portion of the funds will support $200,000 in renovations for the Noyes Children’s Library in Kensington, Md. We support this decision as it is in line with our mission to support the humanities.

Making an Impact: The Wheaton Cultural Project Grants

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

The Wheaton Cultural Grants, now in its second year, has supported artists and scholars interested in launching cultural and creative projects in the County’s youngest arts & entertainment district. Below, AHCMC’s Grants Manger Nabil Ghachem discusses the impact our grantmaking activities in Wheaton.

In 2015, we launched the Wheaton Cultural Project Grants category with the aim at invigorating its Arts and Entertainment District by supporting creative and cultural projects in the diverse and burgeoning community of  Wheaton, Maryland. The first round of the Wheaton Cultural Project Grants, funded by Montgomery County Council and the the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County had the following successes:

Diversity in pool of applicants
The pool of applicants represents diverse ethnicities and cultures, including Cambodian, Indian, Latin-American, and African-American. Out of the 22 applicants, AHCMC was able to fund 12. This indicates that given Wheaton’s cultural diversity, and if provided with the appropriate and adequate arts and cultural venues, Wheaton could be a magnet for arts performances and cultural events.

Diversity in art forms and scholarly disciplines

The FY15 Wheaton Cultural Project Grants included 4 outdoor projects that are open to the community, each featuring a specific art form (visual arts, theatre, dance, and music); 3 humanities projects that highlight the diversity of Wheaton communities and the urban nature that involves children, youth, and families; and 5 multi-discipline arts project that including poetry, film, documentary, chorale, and photography.

The Wheaton Cultural Project Grants helped artists, scholars, and non-profit groups to develop business acumen and think as entrepreneurs. During both pre and post award, applicants were able to connect with businesses, community organizations, and schools and were able to receive an estimated in-kind support and sponsorships for their projects of more than $60,000.

Combining the evaluative data with the values that guide the Wheaton Cultural Project grant may constitute a more complete story about our impact. Demographic realities, regional disparities, and access are a constant reminder of what should guide our approach to support the arts and the humanities. This is particularly important as it reflects national best practices among the field of arts philanthropy. The issue of diversity and racial equity in grantmakers’ portfolio has generated numerous discussion among private, public and corporate arts funders nationwide. The Grantsmakers in the Arts recent statement about Racial Equity in Arts Philanthropy calls on funders to be explicit in their intentions and provides language in their guidelines that specifically takes into consideration the demographic changes and the under-representation of some communities of their grants portfolio.

To that end, the Wheaton Cultural Project Grants guidelines includes the following statement: AHCMC encourages proposals submitted by Asian, Latino/a, African, Arab, and Native American (ALAANA) artists, arts organizations, and communities. This enforces AHCMC role as a social changemaker that focuses on actual debates with an eye on future challenges.

The Wheaton Cultural Project Grant is one step in that direction.

AHCMC Welcomes Nabil Ghachem

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

Nabil Ghachem, a grants manager with an impressive background in theatre and arts education, recently joined our staff as our new Grants Program Officer.  Below, Nabil discusses his new  role at the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County, his international career in grants management, and more.

I was born and raised in Tunisia, a tiny country on the Mediterranean coast of North Africa lodged between Libya and Algeria. I grew up in a neighborhood where a mosque, a church and a synagogue were established only a few blocks from one another. This incredible diversity along with my family’s multi-cultural lineage had a huge influence on what would become a bit of a globetrotting career.

After high school in Tunisia, I was accepted into university in Brussels, Belgium, where I earned an accounting degree and was able to visit almost all of Europe.

In Brussels, I worked at the Arab Cultural Center, writing operating grants, producing international music and theatre festivals, and locating city and state project funding and office space. There, I developed a passion for theatre and enrolled in the Brussels Theatre Academy training program.

I participated in several theater residencies with Yoshi Oida, the GITIS Moscow School of Theatre, and the NO Japanese Theatre and led an immigrant theater group to win the Brussels Capital Theatre Tournament with Dario Fo’s Not to Pay.  Together, we developed arts education programs, short films, and documentaries that dealt with youth, education, and social issues. Following Brussels, I spent two fabulous years in New York  translating and directing Algerian author and poet, Hawa Djabali’s, The Cry of Desire for the Lincoln Center Theatre Director’s Lab, and Athos Fugard’s, Master Harold, and The Boys.

My work in grants management began in Santa Cruz, CA where I managed the County Arts Council’s Grants Program from 2002 until 2012. During my tenure, we completely re-structured the program by implementing new funding criteria, panel processes, and evaluation mechanisms, while initiating collaborations with the private sector and education institutions. We moved the grant making process online, expanded the technical assistance program, strengthened grantees’ managerial capacities, increased access to funding opportunities, and facilitated numerous forums, including the Bay Area Funders’ Forum.  I also had the privilege to launch the Santa Cruz County Poet Laureate program.

We were able to maintain a strong grants program thanks to the support from local city and county council members, local and regional foundations, state and federal support systems, and most of all thanks to a community who was involved in and advocated for the arts as a tool to enrich people’s lives, emotionally, intellectually and economically.

I think we were able to instill a model for collaboration and mutual support that I already see in effect here. As I learn more about Montgomery County’s arts and humanities landscape, I hope to have a chance to meet and work with the exceptional individuals, small, mid-size, and large organizations that contribute to advancing the creative economy in this region.

Nabil brings accounting know-how, extensive grantmaking experience, and a background as creative and cultural producer to this role.  We could not be more excited to welcome him to the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County.  To learn more about Nabil, check out his bio and send him a note of welcome at!

Cultural Grantmaking for Equity, Inclusion, and Community Development

Friday, February 13th, 2015

Across the country, communities are integrating their unique heritage, culture, and design in successful urban planning strategies that are creating economic growth and community development.   From our headquarters in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, we have seen how an effective community arts strategy implemented over time can attract tourism, businesses, and encourage the right kind of placemaking.

As Montgomery County’s designated local arts agency, we are constantly thinking of ways to create innovative and impactful funding opportunities that develop strong communities and are responsive our community and constituents.  With Montgomery County’s FY15 budget allocation of $90,000 for cultural regranting in Wheaton Maryland, we have an incredible opportunity to do this work in a very special urban district.

Not only is Wheaton home to one of the County’s three Arts & Entertainment Districts, it is one of the state’s most culturally diverse areas. The AHCMC Wheaton Cultural Grants increase our capacity building offerings to artists, scholars, and cultural nonprofits while allowing us to advance a very important conversation about inclusion and equity in the arts.

Recently, we partnered with Americans for the Arts to host The Greater DC Diversity Pilot Initiative - a roundtable discussion about how local philanthropy can advance diversity and equity in the Greater Washington region’s cultural sector. More than 50 of our colleagues and local arts and humanities professionals came together to share their perspectives and ideas on this issue.  Here’s what we learned from their responses:

•  Minority-based cultural groups, small organizations, and emerging artists often experience the most difficulty in accessing venues and other spaces for presenting and creating their work.

•  A shortage of funding opportunities, a lack of awareness of existing funding opportunities, and a sluggish economy have made it difficult to obtain arts-based instruction, professional development, and even art-based experiences.

• Arts presenters embrace diversity and inclusion as core organizational values, but are often unsure how to reflect this in their communication and marketing activities.  These groups also struggle in developing/presenting artforms that can be equally embraced by diverse audiences.

These takeaways echo the feedback we received during our cultural asset mapping and community organizing activities in Wheaton. In December 2014, AHCMC held three charrettes to hear directly from prospective grantees and Wheaton residents about their experiences creating, presenting or accessing the arts and humanities in Wheaton. They voiced concerns about a variety of challenges that include:

• An insufficient number of arts venues, incubators, and affordable housing

•  Residential and commercial developments that exclude spaces for arts

•  Segmentation within the ethnic/cultural community and across mediums

•   “Silos” within the arts and humanities community

(see the full report here).

With these conversations in mind, we have developed the FY 15 Wheaton Cultural Grants Guidelines, now available.  We know from experience that it takes a prolonged and coordinated effort to foster the type of arts-based community development that we are trying to achieve in Wheaton.  The arts and humanities one part of the equation that includes the participation of public and private sectors.  The Arts & Humanities Council is extremely excited about working with all of our stakeholders through this process, and look forward to create a more vibrant arts community in Wheaton that will benefit all residents and reflect the heart and soul of this amazing community.