published Thursday, December 5th, 2013

MakeWork ends after dishing out $1 million in grants to artists in Chattanooga area

Instructor Terry Chouinard, black shirt), addresses letter press student Susanne Bowling as the rest of the class, including, from left, Agnes Felner, Chelsea Conrad, Tianna Buckwalter and Michael Matheiss, look on during the first letter press class at Open Press on Monday in Chattanooga. Open Press is a letterpress, printmaking and book arts co-op funded by a 2012 MakeWork grant and, more recently, Kickstarter.
Instructor Terry Chouinard, black shirt), addresses letter press student Susanne Bowling as the rest of the class, including, from left, Agnes Felner, Chelsea Conrad, Tianna Buckwalter and Michael Matheiss, look on during the first letter press class at Open Press on Monday in Chattanooga. Open Press is a letterpress, printmaking and book arts co-op funded by a 2012 MakeWork grant and, more recently, Kickstarter.
Photo by Maura Friedman.

2013 MAKEWORK GRANT WINNERS

* Sybil Baker- Literary Art - “White Elephant: Platforms for Progressive Vision in Action.”

* Kevin Bate - Public Art - “The McCallie Walls Project: A Drive Through Gallery.”

* Christie Burns - Music - “World Music Weekends: A Cultural Dialogue and Celebration.”

* Rondell Crier - Art Education - “Urban Heroes: Youth Arts Initiative.”

* Judy Mogul - Film - “Play: Environmental Art Program.”

* Greg Pond - New Media - “Progress and Pride in Chattanooga: A Look into Patten Towers.”

Source: MakeWork

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Christie Burns can’t believe her good fortune. She gets to do a job she loves, and get paid for it. Guaranteed.

The program director at The Folk School of Chattanooga won a $25,000 grant this week from MakeWork, a program funded by the Lyndhurst Foundation to give grants to individual artists and spur economic development.

Burns will use the money to create at least two ‘World Music Weekends’ at the folk school. The immersive three-day workshops will teach teenagers about other cultures’ music and give participants the chance to interact firsthand with international musicians.

“It’s going to be a lot of work,” she said, then laughed. “It is called the make work grant. But it’s work I’m excited to do. Now I’ve got time to do it and be compensated for it. I can give it enough to really make it succeed. You can advance something like this much further right out of the gate if you’re not trying to cut corners and fund raise.”

Burns is one of MakeWork’s last six grant recipients. The program, founded in 2008, ends this year after giving out $1 million in grants to 101 artists. It was a branch of CreateHere, a five-year initiative that relocated artists to Chattanooga with a $15,000 forgivable mortgage incentive.

“One of the goals of CreateHere and MakeWork was to jump start a creative community in the Southside and other neigbhorhoods,” said Ellen Hays, co-chair of the MakeWork advisory council. “And it has been an overwhelming success. I think when people walk through the Southside and see the art projects — all over town you see the work of MakeWork artists.”

But MakeWork aimed to create more than just artwork — the program also hoped to create long-lasting, sustainable jobs and stimulate economic activity. That also happened, Hays said. About 63 percent of MakeWork artists increased their earned revenue during the year after the grant cycle, she said. And 53 percent of artists live solely on income from their art.

One past MakeWork grant recipient is Paul Rustand, who received $7,000 last year to open a letterpress print shop. The old printing technology was popular in the 1950s but now is a little-known process and artform.

So Rustand offers classes and workshops ranging from $75 to $300 to teach people how to use the printing equipment and also rents the equipment for $25 a hour. He opened The Open Press in October with the money from the MakeWork grant.

“So far we’ve had 15 students take classes and get qualified in everything from book binding to letterpress,” he said.

The non-profit already supports some paid staff, although most work comes from volunteers. Rustand said the goal is to become self-sufficient and hire a full-time staff member within a year.

“We’re moving toward a self-sustainable model,” he said. “We’re just trying to figure out how the streams of income work. It looks very promising.”

While in past years the MakeWork grants were capped at $10,000 or $15,000 per artist and given to as many as 15 individuals, this year only six $25,000 grants were awarded — and the winners had to be past MakeWork grant recipients. Hays said she received about 40 applications.

“The idea was to go out with a bang,” she said. “I’m really excited about these six artists. I think they can really make a difference.”

Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 or sbradbury@timesfreepress.com.

about Shelly Bradbury...

Shelly Bradbury joined the Times Free Press as a business reporter in January 2013, after starting with the paper as a general assignment intern in July 2012. She is from Houghton, New York, and graduated from Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in management. Before moving to Tennessee, Shelly previously interned with The Goshen News, The Sandusky Register and The Mint Hill Times. Outside the newsroom, Shelly enjoys ...

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