The city of Pasadena Arts & Culture Commission held a special meeting on July 9 to review and approve awards for the fiscal year 2020-2021 Annual Grants Program, including cultural trust funds to supplement the program’s operating budget, and to discuss recommended award funding structure.

Due to COVID-19, the meeting was via Zoom.

The Annual Grants Program supports Pasadena’s creative life by expanding public access to arts in the community; supporting the work of the individual artist; bringing the creative process into the classroom; and funding annual festivals, parades, and cultural programming throughout the city.

Commission members unanimously voted to approve the amount of $189,403 in total awards for fiscal year 2020-2021 Annual Grants Program to include the $188,000 annual operating budget and supplemental funds: $134,000 from the Cultural Trust Fund, $54,000 from the General Fund, and $1,403 from the Cultural Trust Fund to supplement the awards.

“This year is unusual in that we did receive for the first time in many years, an increase of $50,000 to the operating budget,” said Rochelle Branch, cultural affairs division manager.

“Last year only one individual artist applied, whereas this year eight applied. That’s a great win.”

The $50,000 represents a 36% increase over the Grants Program operating budgets of previous years. Every year, the program’s operating budget is supplemented from the Cultural Trust Fund to round out award amounts.

In addition to approving the total awards amount for 2020-2021, the Arts & Culture Commission also approved the proposed award funding structure for the fiscal year 2020-2021 Annual Grants Program, which will consist of descending award amounts based on applicant scores within the different percentiles. The overall funding structure acknowledges the differences in scores between applications, and provides proportional funding for scores in six levels based on requested funding amounts and scores.

The proposed award structure will consist of the following: $18,000 to fund all applicants scoring in the 95 to 100th percentile at 90% of the requested amount; $42,500 to fund all applicants scoring in the 90 to 94th percentile at 85% of the requested amount; $69,000 to fund all applicants scoring in the 85 to 89th percentile at 75% of the requested amount; $31,500 to fund all applicants scoring in the 80 to 84th percentile at 70% of the requested amount; and $28,403 to fund all applicants scoring in the 70 to 79th percentile  at 45% of the requested amount (50% for one individual artist).

In 2019-2020, the Annual Grants Program funded 30 projects, and 30 projects are recommended for funding in 2020-2021 as well. Thirty-four applications were submitted by the May 18 deadline in 2020, and out of those applications reviewed, 30 received total scores of 70 or above.

Among the list of applicants approved for funding in 2020-2021 were A Noise Within’s April 2020 production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” including student matinee performances; Armory Center for the Arts’ 12-week visual arts and math integrated curriculum for second grades in six Pasadena Unified School District elementary schools; Light Bringer’s 2021 Pasadena Chalk Festival with chalk murals by more than 200 artists to take place June 20-21 at Paseo Colorado; MUSE/IQUE’s DREAM/HOME, the first concert of the organization’s Around Town series in either October 2020 or Spring 2021; Pasadena Playhouse’s online platform, Playhouse Live, a project that addresses the need to continue theater programming during and after public gathering restrictions are in place, and many others.

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