QA with Florence Williams: BBCF seeks art initiative grant applicants

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 29, 2008

There is an upcoming grant-seekers workshop in Demopolis hosted by the Black Belt Community Foundation. Is this the first time one of these has been held in the area?

No, it is not. We actually have been giving out grants since 2005. We do an average of three grant-seekers workshops a year. One is for our Black Belt Arts Initiative, which is the one that is going on later this month. Then two times a year, we come out for our grant seekers workshop for our community grants.

Tell me about the Black Belt Arts Initiative. What kinds of programs is the foundation looking to fund with these grants?

The Black Belt Arts Initiative is a collaboration between the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the Black Belt Action Commission and the Black Belt Community Foundation. What we&8217;re trying to do is promote artists and arts awareness in the Black Belt by funding programs that will stimulate creativity among young people and adults. What the funds are for programs and projects for community-based organizations for solely arts purposes such as performing arts, visual arts or literary arts. Anything in the arts, we will possibly fund.

Who are some of the former recipients of this grant in Marengo County?

In Marengo County, we have funded the Demopolis Singers, the Friends of Gaineswood, and the Friends of the Demopolis Public Library.

In addition to Marengo County, what are the other counties the Black Belt Community Foundation serves?

We serve 12 counties: Bullock, Choctaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lowndes, Macon, Perry Pickens, Sumter and Wilcox.

Are grants awarded in each county?

We look at the grant applications from all the counties and we try to fund at least one project in each county.

Where do the funds for these grants come from?

One of our major sources of funds for the Black Belt Community Foundation is the Ford Foundation, the Jessie Ball DuPont Fund and the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation. For the arts initiative grant, the funds come from the Alabama State Council on the Arts. We have a total of $200,000 that is allocated for redistribution in the Black Belt for grant money.

How will the grant-seekers workshop on Jan. 31 run?

It is open to the public. Anybody who is interested in the Black Belt Community Foundation and the Black Belt Arts Initiative are welcome to come out. At this particular time, we allow about an hour for our meeting. What we do is for people who may not have heard of us, we give them a little bit of background information on what the Black Community Foundation is and then we go into the grant guidelines and how to fill out the application and what the deadlines are. They get a copy of the application as well as copies for those who may not have been able to come out.

Is there usually a good turn out for these meetings?

We see a lot of the same groups of people. Even if the people that come out are not eligible at that time, we are still trying to get people to build a relationship with us. Usually the average for the grant-seekers workshop is about 20 to 30 people.