Arts grants help Jasper department push forward


JASPER — With no curtain call in sight for the ongoing pandemic, tens of thousands of grant dollars are working to safeguard the Jasper Arts Department’s 10-member staff.
Recently, the group secured $3,000 in CARES Act funding from the Indiana Arts Commission, as well as a $50,000 Cares Act grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

“The main priority of those was to ensure that the arts industry lost as few jobs as possible,” said Jasper Arts Director Kyle Rupert, adding that the CARES grants are meant to assist with costs associated with COVID-19.

The local arts department has not laid off any of its employees since the coronavirus began to spread. The grant funds will be used to cover the wages of the organization’s employees.

Typically, the department would be hosting events like concerts, dance performances and comedy shows. But due to the ongoing pandemic, those gatherings have been canceled for months, wiping out revenue normally generated from fees and ticket sales.

Rupert said that while the CARES funding received won’t cover everything for the rest of the year, the department is “very fortunate to receive the amount that we did get, and very grateful for that.”

At this point, every little bit helps. The director estimated that the department has probably lost out on $15,000 in revenue just from arts center rentals that couldn’t happen between April and mid-June. Additional income was lost due to the shift of the city’s Chalk Walk event from in person to online, and lingering effects could be felt even when live performances do return.

“So, there were definitely some areas where we took a hit,” Rupert said. “And looking out over the course of the fall, we had a full slate of shows lined up like we always do. And that’s going to look different this fall. So, we’re going to take a revenue hit there as well.”

He continued: “So, we’re trying to do what we can to minimize that impact as much as possible. And that comes in the form of trying to generate revenue where we can and as we can.”

In addition to the CARES Act funding, the department also relies on other grants that come in regularly. Rupert said that those grants are staples and the department counts on them, too.

“What we do wouldn’t be possible, really, without these grants that we are awarded,” Rupert said, adding that they help keep costs down for the community.

These grants include about $12,000 in additional funding that comes in the form of a two-year arts organization support grant from the IAC, and another is a $1,000 grant from the Arts Midwest Touring Fund.

Visit Dubois County also supplied a grant that the department uses to offset the cost of its season guide. Periodically, dollars also come in from endowments at the Dubois County Community Foundation. The department has also received grants from Friends of the Arts.

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