Bunches of people showed up to the cinema at Real Art Ways Thursday morning to learn more about how they could get a piece of Mayor Eddie A. Perez's $1.7 million arts stimulus pie.
They learned a lot - application deadlines, eligibility, process.
And here's another thing they learned: $1.1 million of that pie still has to be approved by the city council.
When Perez gave his state of the city address last month, he spoke of a desperate funding situation ahead. Still, he planned to redirect $1.7 million for a stimulus program that would create "hundreds of new jobs."
The plan has apparently evolved. Now, the jobs don't have to be new (the money can be used to "create and preserve" jobs.) Heather Brandon spotted this on tax day. And while $600,000 of the money should come from the stimulus, about $1.1 million is apparently coming from the city's general fund.
Deadlines come quick - April 27 for letters of intent, May 11 for applications. City officials reminded the audience that there will be stiff competition for the $10,000 to $200,000 awards for new or expanded works, facilities improvements, and youth arts employment. And the biggest priority is the benefit that applications provide to the city and its residents.
The fact that much of the money still has to make its way through the city council didn't dampen the spirits of the folks from the HartBeat Ensemble. Steve Ginsburg, one of the theater ensemble's founding members, called it a "redistribution of values at a time of scarcity." Another co-founder, Greg Tate, called it the WPA for Hartford arts.
And Maureen Welch, the organization's development director, said it's all about priorities. "It redefines arts as not being frivolous," she said.
For more information on the program, check out the Greater Hartford Arts Council's website