Arts Artist Foundation on track 

OK, no tracks, but the Trolley Art Tour will raise funds for individuals

In the heated discussions about arts funding, education, and economic development in San Antonio, artists (who create the art in question) frequently are left out of the equation. Art funds typically support organizations, not individual artists. In a town filled with non-profits competing for limited program and operating dollars, and with comparatively few commercial galleries or performance venues to bolster the for-profit side of the business, artists are often left holding an empty purse.

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Bettie Ward, left, and Patricia Pratchett, right, are co-founders of the new Artist Foundation. Caterer Dawn Brooks, center, is providing food for the organization’s March 4 fundraiser. (Photos by Mark Greenberg)

The new Artist Foundation aims to strike a balance by providing $5,000 grants directly to artists in the visual, performing, literary, and media arts. The Foundation’s upcoming Trolley Art Tour on March 4 combines studio visits with live music, dance, literary and theatrical performances, including a short-film screening, to raise money and awareness for the Foundation’s first round of artist grants, which will be awarded in the fall. Co-founders Bettie Ward and Patricia Pratchett hope to make the application available by early summer and to announce the first four grants at the October 21 Art Ball, the Foundation’s next public event.

The Artist Foundation grew out of Ward and Pratchett’s membership on the Cultural Arts Board, the community advisory council of the City’s Office of Cultural Affairs. They saw that, with very few exceptions, arts funding goes directly into organizational coffers, which means some funding is inevitably diverted to administrative and program overhead — a necessary part of the big picture, but not the picture itself.

“We want to build an awareness and recognition of not only the great quantity of artists but the great quality of artists working in San Antonio,” says Pratchett. “When funds go only to organizations, some artists who benefit will be from San Antonio, and others won’t. This is a direct investment in San Antonio artists, recognizing their work and what they contribute to the community.”

All Aboard: First Annual Trolley Art Tour

4:30-10pm Sat, Mar 4

Bettie Ward Studio
625 Avenue E

Economic development is implicit in the Foundation’s vision. “Artists are really small-business owners,” says Ward. “The local economy can only benefit from more artistic and creative projects, and this needs to be recognized.” Influenced by the Cultural Collaborative, which the co-founders worked on as CAB members, the Foundation’s vision statement reinforces this sentiment: “We believe that by bringing awards and recognition to local artists, the art market in San Antonio will grow, diversify, and prosper.”

The fledgling Artist Foundation is currently under the auspices of Arts San Antonio’s 501(c)(3). They’re working to build a board, define the application process, and identify a multi-disciplinary selection panel. Ultimately, however, artists just wanna have fun and make art. So, all administrative tedium aside, the ambitious and free-wheeling March 4 Trolley Art Tour is designed to provide an all-purpose fundraiser and art event that is sure to please.

Beginning in the parking lot of Alamo Funeral Home and the Bettie Ward Studio at 4:30 p.m., the $125 ticket price (all of which will fund grants) includes trolley fare, a bevy of gourmet snacks and fine wines along the route, live music and dance performances, literary readings, studio and gallery tours, a short theatrical performance at Jump-Start, a film screening at Radius, remarks by Mayor Phil Hardberger, and, in lieu of winter, competitive ice sculpting by some of your favorite San Antonio artists. The party ends (officially) at 10 p.m. back at the ice sculptures in the parking lot, where a band will play (unofficially) until around 11 p.m. The tour is limited to 75 people, so call soon for tickets.

By Diana Roberts



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