In the larger world of finance, $5,000 hardly registers.
But for a small community-based arts organization, it may well mean the difference between silence and holding on to staff and WiFi.
Recognizing that, the Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation decided in March to increase the funding available for grant-making, and on Monday, it announced 23 companies would receive awards of $5,000 each.
For Scene-N-Action Productions Company, the very essence of a small community group — annual operating budget under $20,000 — the funding is as sweet as manna from heaven. Its grant is for general operating support, which means it can be used for any kind of company-related expense.
SNAP, as it is known, offers dance and theater arts classes to neighborhood kids in the Germantown-Mount Airy part of the city. As might be expected, everything is online at the moment, thanks to COVID-19. That makes the Bartol grant — SNAP’s first — huge.
“It’s exciting,” said Lydia Robinson, SNAP artistic director and president of the board of directors. The grant, she said “was so on time because of everything that’s been happening with the pandemic.”
Children can no longer come to the Finley Rec Center on Mansfield Avenue, where SNAP sets up shop during non-pandemic times. Parents have lost jobs and can no longer pay any fees. Staff positions are under threat. Insurance payments need to be made.
SNAP applied for a Bartol grant last year, but did not make it. Robinson kept plugging away, however, and with the help of foundation staff, this year the company was rewarded for the effort. And now the programming for 33 children, plus outreach programs for at-risk kids can continue.
Robinson said: “$5,000 to us felt like a million dollars. It really, really helped.”
“It seemed a moment to step up for COVID and for the organizations we’re working with,” said Beth Feldman Brandt, Bartol’s executive director. Of SNAP, she said, “This is exactly who we should be funding.”
“The Bartol Foundation increased its overall giving in 2020 by almost 40% over 2019, including emergency grants to our grantees to pay teaching artists unable to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Feldman. “A third of our new grantees have budgets under $100,000 and the smallest has a budget of $14,000.”
In addition to the $5,000 organizational grants, Bartol, which has a focus on arts education and community programs, is also giving out emergency grants, small ($500) “micro grants,” and an annual Bartol Award ($5,000). The total outlay will be about $145,000 this year, compared to $115,000 last year. Federal law mandates foundations distribute at least 5% of their endowment for charitable purposes. This year, Bartol bumped up to 6%.