ArtsMemphis Awards New Round of Grants, Welcomes New Leadership, Releases New Data

ArtsMemphis has announced a new round of grant distributions totaling close to $1 million, introduced new Board leadership and appointees, welcomed a new Chief Financial Officer, and released new data on the state of the arts.

New Grant Distributions

ArtsMemphis has granted $2.2 million this past year to 64 arts organizations and hundreds of artists. Today, additional funding totaling just under $1 million has been announced through ArtsMemphis’ Operating Support grant and Arts Build Communities grant programs.

ArtsMemphis’ cornerstone Operating Support grants, totaling $900,000, have been awarded to 45 organizations listed here. Organizations were evaluated on their capacity to achieve their mission and goals, their impact in the community, as well as the level of their board’s engagement and support, financial need and accountability. Of the 45 organizations, 40% are led by a person of color and 58% serve participants who are majority people of color.

“We know how critical unrestricted operating support is to shape a sustainable arts community,” said ArtsMemphis President & CEO Elizabeth Rouse. “We are committed to continuing to carry these organizations forward despite the continued challenges our arts sector is presented with due to the Delta variant of this COVID-19 pandemic.”

Additionally, 26 organizations have also been granted a total of $70,650 through the Arts Build Communities (ABC) grant program. ABC, in partnership with the Tennessee Arts Commission, directly supports arts projects that broaden access to arts experiences and enhance the sustainability of asset-based cultural enterprises. These programs will be featured throughout the year on ArtsMemphis’ channels and events calendar.

New Leadership

ArtsMemphis is pleased to announce its new leadership and appointees to the Board of Directors as well as a new Chief Financial Officer.

Kathy Gale Uhlhorn is now Chair of the Board of Directors, and Dr. Russ Wigginton, President & CEO of the National Civil Rights Museum, serves as Vice Chair. Kera Wright, Senior Vice President of Finance for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, is the newest member of ArtsMemphis’ Board of Directors.

“I am so honored to serve ArtsMemphis in this capacity,” said Uhlhorn, who has volunteered with ArtsMemphis since 2006. “While I personally have witnessed the enormous impact ArtsMemphis has on our community at large, I am excited for the opportunity to remind and reinforce that every one of us is a contributor to Memphis’ arts ecosystem.”

Julie Wiklund is ArtsMemphis’ new Chief Financial Officer. A designated CPA and CFA with a decades-long career at FHN (formerly FTN) Capital Markets, Julie sees this role as an intersection of her accounting and finance expertise with her personal passion for the arts.

“This is a dream job,” said Wiklund, who calls herself an “artist by hobby” with a musician husband. “I am grateful for the opportunity to take my career experience and apply it to our culture and city.”

New Data

ArtsMemphis’ 45 operating support grantees submitted data reports in August 2021, which provided critical information related to audience participation and revenue.

Grantees have experienced a collective $24 million reduction in revenue, primarily attributed to earned income from ticket sales, classes and workshops. Revenue reductions would be much higher (over $43 million) if not for relief funding received such as Payroll Protection Program, TN CAREs and Shuttered Venue Operators Grants. Further, ArtsMemphis estimates a 62% reduction in local and state government revenue generated by the arts.

While organizations have added many opportunities to participate virtually as well as created outdoor and socially distanced events—all of which totaled 1.7 million arts experiences—community participation in such events is down 41%.

There is also a reported 61% decrease both in youth engagement and senior engagement. Youth and senior populations are the backbone of many ArtsMemphis grantees, as art and creative exercise are proven social impact contributors to holistic youth development and healthy aging for seniors, according to Americans for the Arts.

Data shows a 53% reduction in staffing, a majority of which is related to contract staff. As a result of this staffing reduction’s direct impact on artists, ArtsMemphis will reopen its Artist Emergency Fund on Monday, September 27 for another round of funding for individual artists in Shelby County across arts disciplines. This new round brings ArtsMemphis’ Artist Emergency Fund total distribution to $640,000  since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.