Surprise isn’t exactly considered the public art center of the Valley.
But members of the city’s Arts and Cultural Advisory Commission are hoping to change that perception.
One way they hope to bolster the public art offerings, programs and events in Surprise is by offering a $10,000 in grants, so local groups can help improve the city’s scene.
That’s what the commission is looking into as Surprise officials begin the process of settling its budget for fiscal year 2021.
The commission had asked previously for a budget package for additional funding to get the grant off the ground, but it wasn’t included in any of the final budgets.
“This year we opted to go a different route, which was to carve out some funds from the existing budget to try to establish the program,” commission liaison Danielle Osborne told the board at its February meeting. “And if it’s successful we can justify future requests for more money or more funding toward the grant program.”
If approved by the city council, applicants who are presenting an event or program that benefits the arts and cultural scene in the community — and is based or held in Surprise — would be eligible.
“A grant may offer the opportunity for an entity who couldn’t have a program to have a program,” Commissioner Kathie L. Morgan said at the Feb. 1 meeting.
If enacted, interested parties would have to apply each year for the grant awards. No money will be distributed upfront, meaning recipients will have to be reimbursed later.
For the upcoming fiscal year, qualified activities must take place between July 1 and June 15, 2022.
“We don’t want to lose another art organization,” arts commission chairwoman Margaret Lieu said. “We’ve already lost too many ... I know that they’re all struggling right now. And while it won’t be a lot of money, a little bit would help.”
Some qualified expenses would be administrative costs, staff salaries and fees, supplies and materials, rehearsal space and marketing and promotion expenses.
If approved in March, organizations would have until April 16 to submit their applications.
The commission would then hear from the applicants in person May 3.
The Surprise City Council would then have the final say at its June 15 meeting.
Provided the council agrees, awarded applicants will find out the good news in the following days.
Those applicants who win awards will have the entire fiscal year to implement their events or programs.
City officials want to model the grant program after the Surprise Community Outreach Program grant, which the Surprise Human Service and Community Vitality Department oversees.
“We don’t want to fund people just to keep them open,” said Seth Dyson, the Surprise Human Services and Community Vitality director. “We want to fund peple that brings events and activities and collaboration into the city of Surpirse.”
Mr. Dyson said if the grant program is enacted the arts commission will have some tough decisions to make.
“The beauty and the hard part will be to hear all these great ideas that come in front of you and you’ll have to pick who’s going to be funded,” Mr. Dyson said.
The commission is currently busy on the design for artwork for the new Fire Station 308, which is being built at the southeast corner of Litchfield and Cactus Roads.
Another notable public art pieces recently erected was the new “Together We Will” structure in front of the city’s Public Works Operational Facility, just to the east of the new fire station.
Jason Stone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.