News Column

Decatur Area Arts Council grants encourage involvement

May 27, 2014

By Donnette Beckett, Herald & Review, Decatur, Ill.

May 27--DECATUR -- When Mike Waltenberger came to Decatur more than 20 years ago, he was impressed with the number of music programs available for children, such as performance programs, youth bands and music camps.

"But all of them came with a price tag," he said.

As the minister of music for the First Baptist Church in Decatur, he wanted free opportunities for children to get involved with music. He soon learned of the grants distributed by the Decatur Area Arts Council.

"The arts council has been extremely important," Waltenberger said.

On May 1, Waltenberger and five other recipients received grants distributed by the council for art programs. The council awards grants to area agencies for art-related programs throughout the year.

"It's money to give out to the community," said Stella Carnahan, administrative director for the council. "It doesn't have to be an art organization; it can be for schools or nonprofit agencies."

Waltenberger will use the funds for a music and art camp at First Baptist Church.

"We will have folk music, drumming, a harpist, and creative writing and rhyming drawing," he said.

Another recipient, the Mount Zion District Library, will distribute its funds into summer art programs. Students will be able to create sculptures and craft projects, including an artistic drawing titled Zentangle, "a relaxing technique in art using lines forming an abstract," said Lynzey Hotwick, the library's children's assistant.

The grant is used by the library not only to encourage others in art, but also to become involved in the community.

"The best way to get the word out is to provide quality, engaging events," Hotwick said. "I believe these events will do that for our library and therefore increase the number of patrons who engage at the library."

Carnahan encouraged other nonprofit groups to apply for grants.

"I think a lot of people don't know that we have this program," she said. "It can be for creative writing, photography, anything creative."

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Source: Herald & Review (Decatur, IL)

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