DOTHAN, Alabama – October 26, 2020 – The Alabama State Council on the Arts (ASCA) has awarded two grants totaling $11,200 to the Wiregrass Museum of Art through its organizational grants program. WMA was awarded $5,600 to support its newly restructured Out of the (Art) Box program for middle and high school students, and another $5,600 for special artist projects in the coming year.
Out of the (Art) Box is held each year as part of WMA’s observance of Youth Art Month in March. For many years, the program has invited teams of students from Wiregrass area high schools to create a unique, site-specific installation with limited supplies in the museum’s galleries. The students were paired with professional artist mentors who assisted in the planning process for the installation, as well as consulted on construction logistics.
In an effort to make Art Box a more collaborative and sustainable program, and to use it to promote arts education as a tool for creative problem-solving and workforce development, the program will be restructured for 2021. WMA invites middle and high school students who believe in art’s ability and power to create a better world to apply. Each student is asked to submit a statement explaining how they think art can effect change, along with a reference letter from a teacher. There will be no teams competing against each other in WMA’s galleries, but rather one team of 12 students working together to create a catalyst for change. Those chosen for this project will work with three professional artist mentors and a local organization to amplify their message and encourage action for their cause through an art-based solution conceived and created by working together.
“The Alabama State Council on the Arts is pleased to support the Wiregrass Museum of Art’s reimagining of the Out of the (Art) Box program. For years, the program has benefited the youth of the Wiregrass, furthering the goals of advancing professionalism and excellence in the arts by providing the next generation of Alabama artists an opportunity to hone their skills while gaining valuable experience working with mentor artists and the WMA staff,” said Amy Jenkins, the Council’s visual arts program manager and gallery director.
“We appreciate that this year the program will also foster team building during a time that needs the arts and creative solutions perhaps more than ever. The Alabama State Council on the Arts looks forward to continuing to support the WMA’s forward-thinking ideas that continue to strengthen their community,” said Jenkins.
Art Box applications will be accepted November 2 through December 4, with selected participants being notified on December 7. Because of current COVID-19 preventive measures, the creation process will take place through virtual weekly meetings beginning January 25, with the final project debuting on February 26. Team meetings will be held virtually and, if needed, the final product can be created virtually as well. WMA will continue to observe current COVID-19 preventive protocols and will proceed with everyone’s safety and health in mind. In coming years, the newly structured program will be easily adaptable for in-person collaboration and project presentation. For more information about Art Box and how to apply, interested students should visit WMA’s website.
WMA will also use funding from ASCA to support artist projects in the coming year. They will include a continuation of the museum’s Visiting Artist Series, which invites artists to teach classes and workshops at WMA and to deliver artist talks and other presentations. Most recently, the series has included a virtual mixed media assemblage workshop led by WMA exhibiting artist Beverly West Leach on October 10. Former WMA artist-in-residence Jared Ragland will deliver a virtual artist talk on November 2 at 6 p.m. to discuss the contemporary political dimensions of remembrance through the representation of memory and absence in “Where You Come From is Gone,” Ragland’s ongoing project with fellow photographer Cary Norton to document sites of prior Native American occupation across Alabama and Florida through a series of wet-plate collodion tintype photographs.
Other prospective projects include the development of a virtual tours series filmed in WMA’s galleries and hosted by guest artists, and other video projects featuring artist interviews and spotlights. Artist projects will be flexible and can adapt to health and safety guidelines at any given time.
“We appreciate the continued support from ASCA over the years and are grateful to count on their support for art education initiatives, as well as exhibition and artist projects. Funding from ASCA allows us to provide some continuity in the services we provide to artists, students, and visitors to the museum,” said Dana-Marie Lemmer, WMA’s executive director and curator. “During a year when not much else is certain, it’s nice that grant programs like this are still able to offer necessary funding for organizations to carry out their missions,” said Lemmer.
ASCA awards grants annually to non-profit organizations, schools, and other community groups for a variety of projects. Funds are matched by contributions from businesses, individuals, local government and earned income by the organizations receiving the grants. In September of this year, ASCA awarded 137 grants totaling $2,290,710 to 113 grantees across the state, including WMA. According to ASCA’s grant announcement, the organizations receiving operating support this year “are cornerstones in the arts landscape of Alabama, reaching 1.7 million Alabamians and visitors to our state annually with arts programming. Support for arts programming is critical for a vibrant creative community, which results in a thriving arts economy, a workforce ready for innovation, and a high quality of life for all residents.”
About the Alabama State Council on the Arts
The mission of the Alabama State Council on the Arts is to enhance the quality of life and economic vitality for all Alabamians by providing support for the state’s diverse and rich artistic resources.
The Alabama State Council on the Arts is the official state arts agency of Alabama. The staff of the Council, directed by Elliot Knight, administers the grants programs and provides financial assistance in arts planning and programming. The Council receives its support through an annual appropriation from the Alabama Legislature and funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.
About the Wiregrass Museum of Art
The Wiregrass Museum of Art inspires a lifelong appreciation for the visual arts by providing innovative educational programs that engage diverse audiences through the collection and exhibition of quality works. Since its founding in 1988, WMA has offered educational programs, nationally acclaimed art exhibitions and community events throughout the year. Its Board of Trustees guides the long-term vision and strategic goals, while its membership, City and County support, and grant funding provide the resources needed to fulfill its mission.
WMA’s galleries are open to the public every Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. General admission is always free.