By Patricia Gaffney
Forty-one organizations gathered to receive the grants from TACA, The Arts Community Alliance, at a reception sponsored by the Louis L. Borick Foundation in the lobby of One Arts Plaza this past Monday evening. Arts organizations large and small applied for the funds to support a portion of their annual costs. They were grateful to have survived a more rigorous screening than in past years. A board member of a musical organization said it was thrilled to have received 80 percent of the amount given in the past. Rachel Assi, executive director of the Fine Arts Chamber Players, said her organization was happy to be included.
Following refreshments and an opportunity for guests to converse, members of the Plano Civic Chorus and Texas Winds Musical Outreach performed. TACA Board Chair Michelle Thomas reminded the audience that a belief in the transformative power of the arts drives TACA. Past Grant Chair Laura Einspanier praised the 50+ plus community volunteers who gave TACA 3,000 hours. Thomas applauded TACA’s Immediate Past Chair Donna Wilhelm.
Community volunteers reviewed parts of applications and studied the candidate organizations by spending $2,500 of their own funds to attend performances, according to Maura Sheffler, deputy director of programs and marketing. Edgar Morales loved the volunteer experience, calling the process “great and rigorous.” Kelly Proctor reviewed the “very thorough” financial portion of applications. Why she donates to TACA, she said, is because the funds are so “thoughtfully allocated.” Both got engaged with TACA’s grant process through their employer, Texas Instruments. Volunteers are performers, arts advocates, and other community leaders.
New in 2017, though no stranger to TACA, Executive Director Wolford McCue reigned in his intention for innovation on finding that donations to TACA could not sustain the rate of grant distribution. According to Programs and Marketing Manager Greg Oertel, the organization revisited its mission and vision, deciding to economize, where possible. Some steps taken: Respect, not exhaust donors. Reduce annual events from three to two. Add rigor to the grant awardee selection process.
TACA’s newly revised strategic plan calls for incrementally serving more visual arts through its future funding. Its mission statement’s “Three pillars: grant-making, capacity building and thought leadership” will also support a new initiative. On the heels of a six-year program funding the development of new artistic work, TACA’s “social impact fund” is now in planning for 2019, to attract projects promising social influence.
The 2019 awards application process is already underway. Eligible organizations must submit a letter of interest by March 1 to be included. You can learn more at taca-arts.org.