Vision Arts Program Funding Reverts To Original Purpose After Year's Use As COVID Relief Grants

Aug 2, 2021

Credit Tulsa Planning Office

Tulsa voter-approved sales tax funding used last year to help organizations through the COVID-19 pandemic are going back to their original purpose: grants supporting arts projects that encourage tourism and economic development.

Vision Arts program funding was repurposed as relief grants last year with many organizations severely limited in what they could offer or shut down entirely. A significant portion of applications’ scores, 30%, will come from their anticipated economic impact.

The Tulsa Arts Commission administers the program. Chair Holly Becker said they’re providing formulas derived from national research that organizations can use in their calculations.

"Measuring economic impact is important because that's one of the primary goals of this program, but how do they do that, right? And we wanted to be helpful in that and also make that section useful in evaluating the applications," Becker told city councilors during a presentation last week.

Becker said in the last year, $600,000 was awarded in two separate rounds of relief grants to nonprofits, with eligible expenses including rent and utilities, payroll, and redesigning exhibits for social distancing.

"We only have $150,000 to spend this year because we utilized all our funds in 2020. We would like to request grants from $5,000 up to $50,000, depending on what the group wants to present," Becker said.

Nonprofits and some groups sponsored by nonprofits are eligible to apply if they are principally located in Tulsa. Projects and performances must take place within city limits.

Voters approved the $2.5 million Vision Arts program in 2016 as part of the Vision Tulsa sales tax renewal package. It is intended to last 15 years.