The Delaware Division of the Arts announced last week that $2.9 million in grants for Fiscal Year 2014have been awarded to numerous art initiatives throughout the state, including more than $30,000 that will go to the Smyrna Opera House.
For "arts stabilization," SOH will receive $7,500. Executive Director David Keller said that "arts stabilization" can refer to any number of capital projects that typically address physical or structural endeavors.
"We will be using that money to replace the rubber roof on the annex structure of the opera house," said Keller. "It will fix an ongoing leak problem we've been dealing with for a number of years."
SOH will also receive $25,460 for its general operating support, which could include anything from salaries and marketing to electric bills or artist fees for the upcoming year.
The Smyrna Opera House was the only local organization that received a grant but was one of almost 20 grants that were awarded to organizations in Kent County, including more than a dozen groups, venues and museums in Dover. DDA awarded 109 grants throughout the state.
Division grants support a variety of projects and programs, from storytelling for preschool reading readiness to professional performances in dance, theater and music. Delaware museums and art leagues in large and small communities alike receive support for internationally recognized collections as well as local artists and artisans.
"A record number of applicants in this year's funding cycle confirm the ongoing breadth and depth of arts activity in Delaware," said Division Director Paul Weagraff. "The quality of arts programming remains high at a time when organizations are striving to build sustainable models based on collaboration, innovation and coordinated programming."
Part of the $2.9 million distributed includes a new Delaware Arts Trust Fund, bringing Delaware's public sector support for the arts closer to the national average of 8 percent of the revenue for nonprofit arts organizations. It is hoped that the arts investment —a collaboration of the Joint Finance Committee, the Governor's Office and the Department of State— will yield significant returns in both state and local revenues, as indicated in the Americans for the Arts study, "Arts and Economic Prosperity," released in 2012 and explained at a summit of artists, art supporters and art organizations in Dover in October 2012.
"The state's investment in the arts makes good business sense because the industry plays a critical role in Delaware's economy," said Secretary of State Jeff Bullock. "As one of the state's top ten employers, we know that Delaware's nonprofit arts sector generates more than $142 million annually in economic activity in the state and supports nearly 3,900 full-time equivalent jobs."
$142 million and nearly 3,900 were some of the figures presented in the "Arts and Economic Prosperity" study, compiled from information from Fiscal Year 2010. The overwhelming objective of the results presentation was that the numbers proved that arts organizations, especially non-profit organizations like the Smyrna Opera House, generated a large chunk of revenue, both on a local and a statewide level.
Page 2 of 2 - In order to make an impact on the community, an arts organization has to plan programming that will attract local residents and outside visitors. The study was adamant that attracting locals is actually key to economic solvency for most organizations. To that end, the Smyrna Opera House has just completed its 2013-14 season program. This year's season actually starts a little early this year, with "Five Reasons," a play written and performed by two locally educated high school kids at 7 p.m., this Friday and at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Saturday. The seasonal program lists about 30 events, which Keller said is typical for any season, and includes several new programs, like an "open mic night" program and a new choral group that will be comprised of local singing talent.
"Our events that feature the talent of local residents are always popular, even more so than some of the big traveling shows that are brought in," Keller said.
However, past programs that have been successful, like large theater productions and Smyrna's Got Voice, now in its sixth year, will keep their spots on the 2013-14 schedule as well.