The Idaho Commission on the Arts (ICA) turns 50 this year. The organization, which is funded equally by state and federal funds, has a lot planned for its future. They're celebrating their big year with an arts-fueled social media campaign they're asking the public to take part in. (For more info on Art Sparks! Day, click here.)
The commission was born in 1966, a year when many states started similar agencies under the guidance of the National Endowment for the Arts. But what sets the Idaho agency apart is its focus on rural education, providing connections to arts in schools and local groups in far-flung places across the state.
Michael Faison has led the organization for the past nine years. He says over that time, the ICA weathered the Great Recession, a time when arts budgets were being slashed across the county.
“When budgets suffered enormously," Faison says, "that provided us with an opportunity to see our work in new ways. If we can’t provide more, how could we make what we provide more valuable?”
Faison says difficult as it was, the recession gave ICA new relevancy. He says he sees the tide turning once again in favor of arts funding – and that he expects the Idaho legislature to approve the agency’s budget this week. The Idaho House unexpectedly killed the arts budget earlier this month.
Among other things, the budget pays for grants to individual artists. Last year, ICA paid $54,895 to artists through these grants.
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