I find this to be my last letter to you as Chairman of Mid-America Arts Alliance at a time when the organization—America’s first regional arts organization—is poised to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary. Founded in 1972 in Lincoln, Nebraska, M-AAA was formed by the thought that more could be done collectively in middle America than apart. This concept of togetherness is as relevant today as it was fifty years ago.
The past several years have flown by, and around every turn we found “new” sponsors and more funding for the artists and creative organizations we serve. This funding includes the historic and generous donation from MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett. The Scott gift has the ability to solidify the foundation of service that lies at the core of M-AAA. It also permits for more transformative and future thinking, and allows the organization to find ways to empower artists and communities across our six-state region and beyond.
The spirit of collaboration was perhaps best illustrated in FY21 when M-AAA and its fellow Regional Arts Organizations joined forces to ask for pandemic funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This resulted in an investment of $10 million for the creation of the United States Regional Arts Resilience Fund. Those funds, paired with a $150,000 donation from the Windgate Foundation, allowed M-AAA to award more than $1.5 million to twenty-seven organizations in our region. Overall this past year, M-AAA’s grants and subsidies grew more than 355% to $5.78 million, offering vital assistance to our region’s arts ecosystem.
The M-AAA team, deftly led by President and CEO Todd Stein, does quite well in the face of adversity. I continue to marvel at what has been accomplished and the positive trajectory of M-AAA. It has been a pleasure to be Chair and to partner with all of you.
With kind regards,
Richard J. Vierk, Chairman of the Board of Directors
Cover image: still image from Tuko Sasa by St. Louis artist Câmi Thomas as featured in FY21’s online and socially distanced exhibition reflect / project
ARt Connect is the Engage professional development program in Northwest Arkansas.
Artist INC connects artists of all disciplines to the tools, resources, and opportunities necessary to develop their entrepreneurial skills and to strengthen their artistic practice.
Artistic Innovations is a grant program that encourages the spirit of experimentation and exploration, exclusively engaging in-region artists in the creation of new, original works for audiences in the M-AAA region.
Artists 360 gives artists from the Greater Northwest Arkansas area a platform to succeed and grow with grantmaking and professional development.
Engage provides community-centered professional and organizational development that focuses on leadership training for small to midsize arts and cultural organizations.
ExhibitsUSA is a traveling exhibition program that creates access to an array of arts and humanities experiences, nurtures the understanding of diverse cultures and art forms, and encourages the expanding depth and breadth of cultural life in local communities.
Interchange recognizes the role of individual artists as change agents and connectors in the cities and towns where they reside, supporting them with grantmaking and professional development.
NEH on the Road is a partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities, touring major humanities exhibitions scaled for smaller spaces.
Regional Touring Program provides grant support for regional presenting organizations to showcase the work of artists from outside their home states.
Special Grants: Pandemic Relief includes the United States Regional Arts Resilience Fund and Houston Cares About Music.