State agency provides funding, services to local arts organizations


SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The newest grant cycle for New Mexico Arts has begun. The state agency provides funding for local nonprofit groups, schools and government entities.

Executive Director Michelle Laflamme-Childs said New Mexico Arts, which is a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, contracts arts services on behalf of the state. “We are actually asking for arts organizations around the state to perform an art service for the people of New Mexico that we then pay them for,” Laflamme-Childs said.

Laflamme-Childs said the program plays an integral role in supporting the local art community because it’s a big business in New Mexico. She said $5.6 billion is contributed to the state’s economy from the arts and culture sector. “It is a really important part of who we are as a state and what we believe in. Arts and culture are essential to life in New Mexico,” Laflamme-Childs said. “We are surrounded by it everywhere we go and everything we do. We’re steeped in it in our state, so it’s important for the state to recognize that as a key part of who we are and also as an economic driver.”

One of the organizations that received funding for the last fiscal year from the program, Duke City Repertory Theatre, used the funds for a number of things. Amelia Ampuero, founder and artistic director of the theatre, said that because there are very few stipulations for how the money must be used, they were able to use the funds for administrative costs to help keep the company afloat, especially during the pandemic.

The funds also went to their special pandemic programming which allowed them to hold virtual, as well as socially distanced outdoor activities. “They do offer these kind of general support grants, which is such an honest-to-God life-saver in this because it means that we can take that money to pay admin staff, and it means we can support the artists who are creating the work,” Ampuero said.

Laflamme-Childs said an average of about $1 million goes out per year to arts organizations, whether they be art councils, arts in schools programs, colleges and universities that hold concert series, dance groups, or others alike. She said just from the 2021 fiscal year, that money went to 201 arts and culture organizations. The local programming from those organizations reached over 2 million people. and financially supported over 7,000 artists. Laflamme-Childs said during a normal, non-pandemic year, the number of artists they support is usually closer to 1,400.

“We hope that as time goes on, and as the program becomes more visible, and people understand more deeply what that contribution to the state is, that there will be a desire for us to be able to spend more money in this program and to fund more organizations and more programming that happens across the state so that more of our residents and visitors can experience the incredible arts and culture that happen in our beautiful state,” Laflamme-Childs said.

New Mexico Arts are responsible for numerous programs like the Governor’s Arts Awards, Poetry Out Loud, Arts in Public Places, art education and advocacy programs and more. The programs or activities funded for the 2023 fiscal year should have a public presentation component that takes place between July 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023. The final deadline to apply for those who qualify must do so before Dec. 3. For a full list of application guidelines or for more information, visit the New Mexico Arts website.

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