Reflecting over the last year, North Dakota Council on the Arts (NDCA) made great strides toward its legislative directive “to ensure that the role of the arts in the life of our communities will continue to grow and will play an evermore significant part in the welfare and educational experience of our citizens.” Operating with an annual budget of approximately $1.5 million, NDCA administered ten grant programs, organized a biennial Statewide Arts Convening, conducted an Online Accessibility Convening, and featured multiple artists in the Capitol building. The state agency also managed a variety of programs including Poetry Out Loud, Arts Across the Prairie, and several special programs like Tiny Print Press and the Densmore Lakota Song Repatriation projects.
As of late September 2022, over $900,000 was awarded in ten different grant programs. They included: Art for Life, Arts in Education Collaboration, Artist in Residence, Community Arts Access, Folk & Traditional Arts Apprenticeship, Partner Letters of Agreements, Institutional Support, Individual Artist Fellowship, Professional Development, and Special Projects.
Folklorist Troyd Geist, who manages the Art for Life program, highlights one of the projects called the Tiny Print Press. In partnership with NDSU School of Design, Architecture, and Art, NDCA’s project brought together a variety of artists to create tiny print press kits with accompanying multimedia learning tools. This style of printing press was specifically designed to address mobility issues associated with older people. In 2022, approximately 75 tiny print press kits were sent to organizations across the state, specifically elder care facilities that have an ongoing partnership and interaction with children, such as pen pal programs. The project was designed to foster safe creative interaction between elders and children to address negative health impacts and issues associated with loneliness and isolation especially in times of quarantine such as during Covid-19 and annual flu seasons.
Arts in Education Director Rebecca Engelman spotlights two of her programs that showed growth in 2022. First, Afterschool Arts Funds was a program NDCA initiated in a partnership with Southeast Education Association and ND Afterschool Network to provide funding to support collaborations between local artists and/or arts organizations and afterschool programs. Funds were granted to afterschool programs across the state with a majority going to programs residing within rural, underserved communities. Second, in partnership with Northeast Education Services Cooperative & Lake Region Teacher Center, NDCA initiated a program called Virtual Online Arts through ConnectND to provide funding for online, virtual arts lessons. Facilitated by highly qualified visual arts, theater, and dance/movement instructors, virtual lessons were provided at no cost to afterschool programs throughout the state.
In October 2022, the Statewide Arts Convening was held in collaboration with the Main Street Summit with events throughout Bismarck and Mandan. NDCA’s sessions featured a variety of speakers such as Amanda Brinkman, a nationally renowned brand expert, who showcased common traits in thriving communities; and Patrick Kirby, Founder of Do Good Better Consulting, who shared ideas for fundraising and a practical framework to leverage resources, tell a better origin story, and have more impact. Other panel discussions included ND artists, Bowling Green State University researchers, and NDCA staff, who discussed Arts Across the Prairie, accessibility, and ways to reimagine rural regions.
Also in October 2022, NDCA hosted an ONLINE Accessibility in the Arts Convening to help explain why and how to make nonprofits and businesses more accessible. Participants heard testimony from three disabled artists; were briefed on the minimum requirements to meet the 2010 ADA Standards; and learned some easy, cost-effective ways to be more accessible from Sam Gould (right), President and Executive Producer of Open Door Theater in Massachusetts. Over 60 people registered for the Convening, including representatives from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Looking back on 2022, NDCA is extremely grateful for the support of its program partners, the National Endowment for the Arts, Arts Midwest, and a variety of state agencies and non-profit organizations throughout the state who aided in the presentation of arts-related programming. But most importantly, NDCA is profoundly thankful for their board of directors, Governor Burgum and his staff, fellow Agencies as well as the ND State Legislature, for the opportunity to support arts and cultural opportunities for the citizens of North Dakota.
The North Dakota Museum of Art is supported in part by a grant from the North Dakota Council on the Arts, which receives funding from the state legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.