Supporting cultural assets in Flint is focus of Mott grants

FLINT — Recognizing the value of arts and cultural resources in creating vibrant and attractive communities, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation recently announced a package of grants totaling $3.7 million for the institutions of the Flint Cultural Center.

The one-year, general operating grants are:

• $1.5 million to the Flint Cultural Center Corporation (FCCC), including support for Longway Planetarium, Sloan Museum and The Whiting;

• $1.5 million to the Flint Institute of Arts (FIA); and

• $700,000 to the Flint Institute of Music (FIM), including the Flint School of Performing Arts, Flint Symphony Orchestra and Flint Youth Theatre.

“Just as they entertain and educate, the arts also engage people, creating shared experiences that connect individuals with a community,” said William S. White, president and CEO of the Mott Foundation. “The cultural center, by creating such connections, is providing residents and visitors with opportunities to discover and celebrate both the city and each other.”

The Foundation’s support of the cultural center has totaled $104.88 million since 1928. That funding has allowed the member institutions to improve and expand their facilities, provide best-inclass programming, and develop outreach activities to engage underserved audiences, including children and senior citizens.

This latest round of Foundation grants will support the core programming and day-to-day operations of those institutions, and enable them to offer more free and low-cost activities, expand their efforts to work with local schools, and host more community events.

Mott’s longstanding commitment to its hometown is further reflected in the more than $786 million that the Foundation has invested in the greater Flint area over the past 85 years — $31.85 million in 2012 alone. That funding has included support for programs serving children and youth; economic and downtown development; job training; public safety; and emergency and family services.

One of the country’s first cultural districts, the Flint Cultural Center attracted more than 630,000 people over the last year. Half of those served are children, and the cultural center’s various programs and events bring thousands of visitors from outside Genesee County each year.

The Mott grants will also support a number of unique community outreach initiatives, including:

• “What’s Up at the FIA,” which makes that institution’s collections accessible to individuals living with memory loss and Alzheimer’s diseases, and their caregivers;

• The Flint Youth Theatre’s “Signature Series,” which presents plays that, in partnership with area nonprofits, engage area residents affected by such key social issues as youth violence; and

• the Whiting’s Entertainment Express, which brings live performances to facilities serving local senior citizens.

“To say that the Mott Foundation’s support has been vital to our ability to reach an ever-increasing audience would be understating the facts,” said FIA Director, John B. Henry, III.

“These grants put into practice a vision that the arts have the ability to enhance a community’s sense of pride and place. It’s a belief I fully share, that the cultural center institutions are essential components to the future of a vital and healthy city.”

The Mott grants will also support ongoing efforts — both at the cultural center and local schools — to serve and engage area children and young people. For example, during the 2012/13 school year:

• Staff from Sloan and Longway used a portable dome theater to bring planetarium and other educational programs directly to 4,230 students at 22 schools in Flint and Genesee County, and one school in Kalamazoo.

• More than 34,000 area students in grades K through 12 were served through various educational programs offered by FIA.

• FIM’s “Troubadours” program used music and storytelling to advance learning in geography, writing, social studies and character education for more than 42,000 local children.

“Mott’s support of the arts and culture in Flint has been critical to our longterm efforts to help build a prosperous, vibrant and diverse community, where children and adults recognize the value and potential growth from quality music, dance and theater in their everyday lives,” said Paul Torre, president at FIM.

Mott, established in 1926 by an automotive pioneer, is a private philanthropy committed to supporting projects that promote a just, equitable and sustainable society. It supports nonprofit programs throughout the U.S. and, on a limited geographic basis, internationally. Grantmaking is focused in four programs: Civil Society, Environment, Flint Area and Pathways Out of Poverty. Besides Flint, offices are located in metropolitan Detroit, Johannesburg (South Africa) and London.

The Foundation, with 2012 year-end assets of $2.28 billion, made 439 grants totaling $91 million. For more information, visit G.G.

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