MARQUETTE — The Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs distributed more than $200,000 in grant funding to various organizations throughout the Marquette area late last year, and each organization has about nine months to match what they received before they can use any of it.
The Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum is one such organization and it received not one, but two grants.
The first is a $30,000 operational grant and will go toward the museum’s everyday operations.
“That money is oftentimes the hardest money for a cultural organization to get,” Children’s Museum director Nheena Weyer Ittner said. “Most funding organizations like to fund more project-oriented kinds of projects. This money will go towards the basic operations of the children’s museum.”
The second grant, worth $6,500, will provide capital funding, which the museum will use to convert many of its lights to LEDs. It’s received similar grants the past two years to help replace its front doors and update the heating and cooling ventilation system.
Ittner said, “The reason we want to do that is because LED lights are longer lasting and they use less energy, and our greatest expense right now is our electric bill. It would be prudent for us to be energy efficient so we made this request.”
The Marquette Regional History Center also received an operations grant, this one worth $22,500. By having a portion of their operations funded, it opens up time to focus on programs.
History Center executive director Kaye Hiebel said, “It gives us $22,500 worth of time that we don’t have to spend fundraising for that amount so that we can really devote our time to our programs and our mission statement, which is really what we want to be doing, so it’s wonderful that way.”
The Children’s Museum and the History Center are just two arts and culture centers among many in a community that values and benefits from its arts and culture scene.
“I think investing $200,000 in an area like Marquette says something about our city,” Hiebel said. “I know I’m a little biased, but I think we are an amazing, vital, creative community.”
“A community is made much richer by its cultural organizations, and cultural organizations are absolutely a critical piece of what makes a community special,” Weyer Ittner said.
“For all of us who work in arts and culture it’s an amazing benefit to have the state support our efforts and so it’s wonderful that the governor and other legislators have made this a priority in the State of Michigan,” Hiebel added.
The Children’s Museum’s capital grant must be met through fundraising efforts, but the operations grants can be met through unrestricted means, such as daily revenue.
Neither organization is worried about matching their respective amounts.