by Charles A. Monagan
May 19, 2011
11:37 AM
On Connecticut

A Meager Bone for Artists


The new list of artist fellowship awards totaling $100,000 has just been released by the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism. This is a fine concept, of course: granting fellowships to 27 artists "to support their continuing artistic development and creation of new work." Awards this time went for choreography, fiction, film & video, music composition, playwriting and poetry, with the artists hailing from 18 different Connecticut towns and cities.

All very fine. But it has always struck me that the amount awarded to each artist - either $2,500 or $5,000 - is ridiculously small. If you are a writer of fiction, for example, and you receive an award of $2,500, what exactly will that do for you? How will that "support your continuing artistic development and creation of new work"? I suppose the artists find all sorts of useful ways to spend the money, but it reminds me of those $500 college scholarships handed out at this time of year by various civic organizations: nice to get, but, really, how far is it going to take you?

I know this goes against the commission's politically motivated model of rewarding a lot of people with a small amount each, but I would love to see these fellowship awards changed so that five artists get $20,000 each, or four get $25,000, or, best of all, two get $50,000. The state would then be making a serious difference in the lives of the selected artists, creating real room for them to write, dance, compose or film. Further, rather than releasing the perfunctory press release that arrived today, the commission could make the announcement of the awards a real occasion, a genuine honor for the recipients, and a way to highlight the great creative work going on all around us. Hell, they could even name the grants after their favorite politician. The Malloy Awards . . . there are far worse legacies one could imagine.

A Meager Bone for Artists

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