Mini-Grant Available Supporting New Arts Learning Efforts

By Ann Talbott Brown, Director of Arts Education

The Arts Education Mini-Grant program has undergone changes in this long-standing grant category. The first revision broadens the type of work funded by empowering a wide network of stakeholders with tools, convening and data to address planning, policy and practice for arts learning. The strategy is to bring together public school teachers, administrators, district personnel, artists, parents, students, and community members to examine the status of access and participation of arts education informed by the Tennessee Arts Education Data Project. The goal is to support efforts to develop strategic arts education plans in communities across Tennessee that focus on increasing access and improving quality of arts learning for all Tennessee children and youth.

Teachers explore arts education planning at TN Arts convening

The second Mini-Grant funding opportunity aligns arts learning with efforts to prepare students for success in school, career and life. Previously, applicants were limited to applying for funds to work with a teaching artist in an after-school setting. While this work is still allowable and encouraged, the new Arts Education Mini-Grant guidelines requires applicants to consider strategies that advance arts education and arts integration initiatives developing 21st century learning and literacy skills and that develop abilities preparing students for jobs in the creative sector. Examples of such projects include students working with professional artists to prepare for the college arts audition process; a drama project developing communication and public speaking skills; or students working with an arts organization’s operations team to plan an arts event—learning components of arts administration such as fundraising, board development, and marketing in the arts.

Arts administrators viewing art at the Knoxville Museum of Art

Other changes to the Mini-Grant guidelines include increasing the maximum request amount from $1,000 to $3,000 to pay for additional expenses including contracted personnel, travel and consumable supplies. Organizations receiving other Arts Education grants from the Commission may apply for the Arts Education Mini-Grant as long as the proposed project is separate and distinct from other funded efforts. Additionally, grantees from distressed, at-risk, rural, and/or TADI counties are encouraged to apply, with some grant funds set aside to specifically serve these areas. By investing funds for communities to develop strategic plans as well as offer programs both in school and during out-of-school time that prepare students to work in the broad arts field, there is an intentional practice to leverage arts and cultural assets across the entire state to strengthen arts education in Tennessee.

Student artwork from Rivercrest Elementary School in Bartlett

The Arts Education Mini-Grant guidelines and application are now available for projects occurring July 1, 2019 through June 15, 2020. Organizations are encouraged to contact to determine eligibility a availability of funds. Applications are due in the online grants system at least 30 days prior to the project start date. For more information, visit