The power of artistic expression is rich and boundless, with art used as a prime and essential tool to convey valuable ideas and emotions, to educate, to beautify, and to enrich. To advance any and all of these missions, the Hernando County Fine Arts Council offers grants of up to $1,000 each for local groups to promote the arts in Hernando County.
“The Hernando County Fine Arts Council Community Arts Grant Mission is designed to involve county residents in creating, appreciating, supporting, participating in, or learning about the creative arts in Hernando County,” read an arts grant mission statement.
Any Hernando County education, art, civic, or cultural organization recognized as a non-profit or charitable group, not including schools, may apply for a grant. Schools can seek funding through Arts in Education Grants. All projects must be located in Hernando County; no match is required.
Types of projects eligible for funding include
• Public art installations (murals, sculptures, etc.)
• Art-focused events or performances
• Art instruction
“Thanks to AITP, we’re able to keep this program going, and the projects are getting better every year!” said Cheryl Hill, community arts grants coordinator. “Hernando County Fine Arts Council non-profits in the county are invited to apply for a Community Arts Grant for up to $1,000 for projects that support the arts in Hernando County. Last year, we awarded $9,000 in grants to ten organizations for projects covering the visual arts, performance arts, music and poetry.”
And the Arts Council is offering additional support for those interested in applying for the grant. “For the second year now, we’re offering a pre-application workshop where the grants committee will answer questions and give feedback to individuals that have a potential project in mind,” said Hill. “The workshop will be at 5:30 p.m. on September 28 at the Arts Council’s offices within the Hernando County Health Department at 300 Main Street, Brooksville.”
The Arts Council’s Facebook page lists a number of recent community art projects funded by the Arts Council’s grant program. In 2021, the Arts Council awarded the Rotary Club of Spring Hill, Florida, a $1,000 grant for a Student Activity Inclusivity Mural at Springstead High School. More than 50 students in the Young Rotarians/Interact Club collaborated on a series of six murals, displaying teamwork and commitment week after week. Miss Ali’s Art Class, a 2023 grant recipient, is an after-school art program that welcomes both neurotypical and individuals with special needs in Hernando County. The program is open to individuals ages 4-20.
Chapters Health Foundation and Hernando Pasco Hospice applied their $950 Community Arts Grant last year to buy art supplies for a new program that serves grieving children. Through their art workshops, conducted throughout the year, and a special summer camp session, children coping with profound loss learn to explore and deal with their feelings, fostering both creativity and healthy coping skills.
“This is an opportunity to use art therapy to help children through their grief journey,” explained Andrea Arflack, Director of Philanthropy at Chapters Health Foundation, in support of HPH Hospice. “These programs are offered free of charge to children in the community that have suffered their loss, whether their lost loved one was served through hospice or not.”
As part of these programs, children engage in creative activities such as the molding of “grief monsters” that they can “smash” to both embody and express their feelings.
Arflack reports that, in the state of Florida, 1 in 11 children experiences the loss of a parent or sibling. “We provide special programs for children who deal with special feelings and experiences when missing their person,” she said. “These programs would not be possible without community donations and grants such as the Community Arts Grant.”
Jetiame Mendes, HPH bereavement specialist, agrees. “When we started rebuilding the child bereavement program after COVID, we hit a wall as far as funding,” she said. “The grant was so helpful.”
Just as the children’s bereavement program is helpful to kids at a crucial time in their lives, “one of the art activities we offer involves the making of a clay butterfly attached to a chime. When the child thinks about the person they lost, they ring the chime,” she said.
“Kids and teens struggle with grief, as it’s something that they can’t see,” said Mendes. “But what you do see is the amazing change in these kids after one session.”
Oct. 6, 9 p.m., is the application deadline for this year’s CAG program. On Nov. 9, grants and award amounts will be selected at an HCFAC meeting. On Dec. 1, 2023, awardees will be notified via email. Apply online at: https://www.hernandoarts.org/cag.