October 5, 2004

McKnight Grant

I just received word from Mai Neng Moua, our executive director, that we have received a substantial grant from the McKnight Foundation for general operations. That will keep the doors open and the lights on for a few more months.

Over our short history we have been fortunate to be successful at writing and receiving grants for our programs and operations. Mai Neng is a master grant writer. Even so, it is difficult to keep things going and we have been investing a lot of our time strategizing our fundraising and earned income strategies. In fact, our first major fundraising event is coming up on Saturday, October 23. If you have any desire to contribute, contact me: ogde0004@umn.edu.

While receiving this grant money makes me feel grateful for the support of charitable foundations, it also makes me wonder how long we can keep going this way. I have abiding questions about the popular support of literary and visual arts. Does all art have to function as a self-sustaining capitalistic project?

The success of Barnes and Noble and other mammoth booksellers is encouraging—Americans are not only reading books, they are buying them too. Can this trend towards popular literacy and literary interest find its way from the successful marketers and retailers to small operations like ours? Will we forever have to rely upon funds from institutional philanthropy, or will we eventually secure a financial based comprised of actual readers, writers, appreciators, and artists? Do we want to become a business, even if it is not-for-profit?

Posted by ogde0004 at October 5, 2004 2:06 PM