Bedford Cultural Council Looks Ahead to a New Grant Season, and Reflects on Prior Awards

August 28, 2020

The fine and performing arts are a big part of the collateral damage inflicted by the Covid-19 virus. Even museums have been compromised, with limited capacity and operations.

At the local level, the Bedford Cultural Council is moving forward with grant applications and a community survey, with an implicit hope that the threat of the pandemic will be eased sometime next calendar year.  The current grants period will open on October 1, 2020, with applications due on November 16, 2020

Three of the current grants are virtual or video programs: A Saturday morning Zoom featuring the Tanglewood Marionettes at the Bedford Library, a performance of the Concord Chorus, and Dance Caliente’s video in conjunction with Bedford TV.

The local Cultural Council allocates funds annually to support public projects in the arts, humanities, and interpretive sciences that “promote access, education, diversity, and excellence.” The modest annual state grant this year is augmented by a $4,600 municipal appropriation.

Organizations don’t have to be based in Bedford, but they must demonstrate a clear connection to the town to qualify for consideration. Non-resident applicants must submit a letter to explain how their event benefits residents if it is to take place at a venue outside of town. Individuals who live elsewhere need to provide a local venue and a letter from a Bedford sponsor.

Twelve members of the Cultural Council met via Zoom on Monday evening to address pending issues the year and along with future prospects. It was the council’s first meeting in more than six months. The council approved extending the time frame for completion to next calendar year for 11 grants and modification requests, out of 31 applicants previously approved for this year.

After the meeting, council chair Barbara Purchia noted that, of the remaining seven applicants, six have said they plan to complete their program/project this year. “If they are not able to, they also can request an extension,” she added.

“We sent letters to all applicants who had not completed their programs or projects and gave them several options, including the option to hold the program publicly via Zoom or another live platform,” Purchia said. “We really want to provide maximum flexibility for the applicants so they can do their programs and we want to give them the grant money.”

Thirteen awardees have completed their projects and programs and have received the grants, which are fulfilled through reimbursements.

The council also learned that the 2021 grant cycle application window will be October 1 through November 15, a month later than usual. A subcommittee will review outreach plans for 2021 applicants.

The council members also reviewed a model evaluation form from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. The form includes a report on attendance, but members questioned the value of that criterion. “If someone expected 20 to attend, and seven came and enjoyed it, would we deny the next request?” wondered Elaine Grace. “The question is: did people find it beneficial? The survey doesn’t address that,” said Susan Schwartz. “Could it affect the next application? If not, why require it?” asked Angel Pettitt.

Members also continued to plan an upcoming survey of the community, updating the most recent effort in 2019. The council hopes to learn how many residents are aware of the Cultural Council and its mission, as well as priorities for funding, other types of programming of interest, and how people learn of local cultural activities.

Mike Rosenberg can be reached at [email protected], or 781-983-1763
Click this link to learn more about The Bedford Citizen’s first community reporter.

Click the Mass Cultural Council
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Bedford Cultural Council’s web page.


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