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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane Arts announces first round of SAGA recipients for 2021 totaling $44,500

By Audrey Overstreet For The Spokesman-Review

Spokane Arts announced its first round of Spokane Arts Grant Awards for the year, with seven local artists and arts organizations receiving a total of $44,500 for projects in music, education, writing, theater, festivals and culture. Two recipients awarded $10,000 each are both book projects.

The first book project is titled “Ponies in the Park,” a picture book written and illustrated by local artist, author and former educator Mary Pat Kanaley and children’s author Mary Carpenter. The hardback picture book will teach kids about the sculptures and history of Riverfront Park.

The book will also contain support materials, including an interactive scavenger hunt revolving around the sculptures. The lesson plans and virtual presentations to be included on an accompanying website will be designed to answer teachers’ and parents’ requests during the pandemic for more online interactive educational materials.

The other book project also receiving $10,000 is to help fund local author Kate Lebo as she writes the first five chapters of her next book, “The Loudproof Room,” a collection of essays about listening through hearing loss.

Lebo will conduct interviews with individuals from the local deaf and hard-of-hearing community. She will use a reading from the book as a focal point for a forum where hard-of-hearing people can share their experiences.

Lebo will host a virtual reading that collaborates with an organization like Eastern Washington Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing to showcase the work of deaf or hard-of-hearing writers, as well as parts of “The Loudproof Room.”

This year’s Get Lit! Festival, which will be April 12-18, will receive $5,000 to present authors, genres and experiences for audiences free of charge to online viewers. The virtual festival will feature headlining authors Jess Walter, Esi Edugyan, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Robin Wall Kimmerer and others.

The monies will cover author fees, help hire videographers and sound editors, as well as provide sign-language interpreters and live captioning on the festival’s free YouTube channel.

Spokane Valley Summer Theatre secured $5,000 to support its three-show summer-stock musical season outdoors in 2021. The grant will help SVST acquire the equipment necessary to safely move its performances from the theater’s customary venue at Central Valley Performing Arts Center to an outdoor environment this summer.

Spokane Youth Symphony garnered $5,000 in SAGA monies to assist qualified families with the cost of private lessons. Not only will students from disadvantaged households be able to access the benefits of enhancing their musical education, but local professional musician teachers will also be able to earn additional income.

Professional teachers interested in mentoring SYS students can inquire about opportunities at

Northwest Winterfests’ Celebration of the Holidays in Mirabeau Meadows Park will receive $5,000 to help fund visual and performing artists participating in the event. The festival runs Nov. 11-Jan. 2 and features more than 30 cultural groups that will present their geography, history, holiday stories and traditions.

The parent-run APPLE program located at Garfield Elementary School will receive $4,500 to help pay artists to collaborate with K-6 students on a new Garland Street mural. Professional muralists Susan Webber and Daniel Lopez will inspire Garfield students to appreciate the art present all around them.

Working on a mural together will give the students the artistic voice and skills they need to publish an original, outdoor mural, imprinting their voice onto Spokane through a public painting project.

In addition to this year’s SAGA Round 1 grant winners, Spokane Arts provided funding to five additional cultural organizations by using monies from the city of Spokane earmarked specifically for the support of cultural groups. This set of grants was awarded by a separate selection panel composed of Spokane Arts commissioners who made their choices independently from the SAGA process.

The five organizations that received grants to support general operations and events in 2021-22 are Impanda, which serves at-risk youth with a center for music and art therapy ($10,000); the Hispanic Business Professional Association ($10,000); the German American Society of Spokane ($3,000); the Spokane Area Council of Square Dancers ($2,000); and Northwest Winterfest ($5,000).

“The arts sector has been hit hard by pandemic restrictions, and we hope the additional funding SAGA was able to release in 2020 … has made a difference for individual artists and organization working in our region,” said Shelly Wynecoop, grants administrator of Spokane Arts.

SAGA funding comes from the city of Spokane Admissions Tax, a portion of which is dedicated to supporting the arts via an ordinance passed in 2016.

SAGA will award a total of $135,000 in grants to the arts in 2021, which will be spread across three grant-making rounds. The next round of SAGA grant applications will be due online June 1 for applicants seeking support for projects for any amount up to $10,000.

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