Acton-Boxborough Cultural Council 2014 Annual Report
Submitted January 10, 2015 by:
Sunanda Sahay, Kristie Rampton, Co-chairs
Acton-Boxborough Cultural Council
P.O. Box 2291
Acton, MA 01720
A. About the Acton-Boxborough Cultural Council
The Acton-Boxborough Cultural Council (ABCC), established in 1982, has as its mission to award and administer Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) Grant funds, to promote the arts, and to help develop cultural programs in the Acton and Boxborough communities. Volunteers are appointed to the Council by the selectmen of each community, but it functions as a single entity undertaking these activities:
- Review of grant applications from individuals, libraries, schools, and arts and community organizations; and awarding MCC grant funds to projects that provide a local public benefit. The ABCC is one of 329 Local Cultural Councils (LCCs) that are funded by the Massachusetts Cultural Council through an annual appropriation by the state legislature;
- Sponsorship of cultural programs for the Acton and Boxborough communities using funds generously designated by Town Meeting of each community. These funds have been used by the ABCC to present jazz, classical, and world music concerts, vocal performances, films, opera, public art installations and more;
- Advocacy for the arts through community outreach and publicity.
The ABCC’s activities take place from September-June; calendar year 2014 encompasses the second half of FY14 (January-June) and the first half of FY15 (September-December). This Annual Report gives preliminary results of our FY15 Grant Cycle in which we plan to support 29 individuals, schools, libraries and arts organizations using state funds allocated to us by the Massachusetts Cultural Council. This report will also highlight the local events, programs and collaborations the ABCC was able to undertake in 2014 thanks to the continued financial support from our Towns.
B. ABCC Members
Acton: Suman Adisesh(resigned June 2014), Barbara Estabrook(resigned June 2014) , Greg Hutchins(resigned Dec 2014), Kristie Rampton Johnson, Linda Mayer, Sunanda Sahay, Tse-Ming Wang(resigned Sep 2014), Beth Davis.
Boxborough: Alexis Presti-Simpson, Nancy Evans (appointed November 2013), Ramika Shah(appointedJune 2014)
Kristie Rampton Johnson and Sunanda Sahay have been co-chairs since fall 2013. Nancy Kumaraswami served as Secretary. Kristie and Sunanda also served as the co-Grants Coordinators for FY2014-15. Greg Hutchins and Ramika Shah were Treasurers. Publicity coordinator was Marion Powers. Linda Mayers is taking over from Marion Powers.
Acton-Boxborough Regional High School Advisory Board:
This program is a collaboration with ABRHS. Our students actively join in our monthly meetings and participate in and support Council events including grant application review. We are in discussions with the high school staff to recruit current freshmen, sophomores and juniors to the council.
Recruitment: We work closely with the Acton and Boxborough Boards of Selectman, Town staff and other Town volunteers on our continued membership efforts. There are three Acton residents who have shown interest in joining the ABCC this coming year. We are in the process of meeting with these individuals personally and inviting them to attend our January meeting.
C. Mass Cultural Council (State) Funding for FY15:
The ABCC is one of 329 Local Cultural Councils (LCCs) funded by the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) through an annual appropriation by the state legislature. Each fall, we are required to distribute this annual allocation through a grant process. We review each application and award monies considering the quality, originality, and creativity; planning, budget, and most importantly, community benefit of each proposed project.
At the beginning of fiscal year 2014-15 the ABCC was allotted $8700 from the MCC, representing a slight increase over our allocations for the previous three fiscal years. Council decided to save 5% for administrative cost (website etc), keeping 8170 available for the grants.
It was another competitive grant season. We publicized the availability of grants through emails, posted fliers and press releases in The Beacon and Action Unlimited. . Application information was available at our staffed display table at the Acton-Boxborough Farmers Market in August and at Boxborough Harvest Festival. We received 36 applications requesting a total of $17,307 in funding. After very difficult and lengthy deliberations the ABCC chose to fund 29 projects that give the greatest benefit to our communities including projects at the public libraries, some of the elementary schools, NARA, Iron Work Farm, the Boxborough Harvest Festival, local and neighborhood museums and several other Acton-based organizations and individual artists. Final approval from the MCC of local council grant decisions is expected in mid- January; grantees are notified and grantee names and grant amounts are announced to the public at that time.
D. Local Funding and Council-Initiated Events
The ABCC was once again generously supported by both Acton and Boxborough town funds via warrant articles and line items. The dedication of the voters, Boards and public officials in both towns is truly remarkable. Acton provided the ABCC, through a Warrant Article, with $2000. Boxborough provided $1,500 for exclusive use in Boxborough. Few local cultural councils enjoy this level of local support. We are extremely grateful and seek every opportunity to acknowledge the support of our two towns. We are grateful also for the physical support that the two towns provide: meeting spaces, access to the town copiers, excellent support of the Information Technology Department of the Town of Acton in scanning all grant applications and providing online access to all Council members to the scanned documents through the Town website. This saved thousands of sheets of paper and many hours of labor. Our “green” grants cycle has received statewide recognition from the MCC.
We are also thankful for the continued support and active involvement of our liaisons, Acton Selectman Janet Adachi and Boxborough Selectman Susan Bak
The ABCC sponsored and collaborated on several exciting events in 2014. Details are below.
- Namimg and plaque installation of wildlife sculpture at NARA.
Linda Mayer of Acton led the effort to involve the Acton Boxborough elementary schools to organize a naming contest of the sculpture. A call for submissions of names from students was issued in the spring. Dozens of students participated. The winning name of “Heron’s Dream” was submitted by Calvin Miller of Conant School. The sculpture was named in a formal ceremony that took place at Nara on June 1st in the presence of Sen Eldridge and Rep Atkins. The Blanchard School Brass ensemble performed at the event and were given $100 as appreciation. Calvin Miller won $20 gift card courtesy "Quill and Press."
- Fifth annual "Our World in Film" International Film Series, May 2014
ABCC member Greg Hutchins coordinated the “Our World in Film” International Film Series, which included the films La Estrada(Italian), Wazda (Saudi Arabia, first movie produced in Saudi Arabia, first movie produced and acted by an Arabic woman) ) and Mary and Max (Australian) Introductions to each film were provided by various committee members and discussions were led by local residents familiar with the culture shown in the film. Showings were held at the Sargent Memorial Library and Acton Town Hall and the films shown have been donated to the Towns’ libraries for their collections.
- FY13 Grantee Reception – April 4, 2014,
The ABCC held its annual Grantee Reception at Sargent Memorial Library in Boxborough. This event provides a valuable opportunity for grantees to meet, to publicize their projects, and to network with other arts-minded individuals and groups. In addition to our FY14 grantees, our state and local legislators and officials were invited to attend. Each grantee had a chance to speak briefly to acknowledge supporters and collaborating artists and organizations and to highlight upcoming events. Acton Selectman Janet Adachi, and Boxborough Selectmen Les Fox and Frank Powers attended. Performances by 2014 grantees included a group of Indian dancers from one of the Indian grantee and committee member Suman Adiseshu's dance school. The Council also celebrated the contributions of retiring members Barbara Estabrook and Suman Adiseshu in the presence of Sen Eldridge and MCC representative Kate Longmire.
- ABCC members visit to the State House,
On 11th Feb 2014, 3 ABCC members Greg Hutchins, Nancy Evans and Sunanda Sahay attended the local councils' meeting at the State House where they met Sen Jamie Eldridge and discussed about raising the grants to the councils. Sen Eldridge, Rep Bensen and Rep Atkins were instrumental in raising the grant. Rep Eldridge is also the chairperson of the art grant committee.
E. Looking to the Future
The NARA Park Sculpture has been a very time intensive project that has taken much of the council’s descrecionay time over the last two years. Now that “Heron’s Dream” is installed and maintenance issues have been addressed (much thanks to the town for their continued support in this) we are looking forward to new opportunities to encourage and support the arts in our communities. We will be discussing ways to assist new projected ventures such as the Walden Shapkespeare’s Midsummer’s Night Dream scheduled to be performed at NARA Park in July, expanding current projects we host such as creating a heavier “cultural discussion” aspect to our foreign film series and, reaching out to exsisting program such as the Acton Open Studio Tour to see if we can be of assistance.
Thanks you so much for your kind support.
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