2021-2022 CREARTE | Q&A WITH BELISSA AND JORGE

The Miami Foundation received a record 284 applications from nonprofits interested in funding from The Jorge M. Pérez Family Foundation’s CreARTE Grant Program. The effort will invest over $1.5 million in Miami-Dade organizations working to cultivate this ecosystem by expanding residents’ access to the arts and making our city a global hub for artistic excellence. The review team has narrowed down the applications and 81 have been advanced to a full proposal which will be reviewed later by a team of expert reviewers. 

At this midway point in the grant process, the Pérez Family Foundation’s Program Director, Belissa Alvarez, sat down with Jorge Pérez to unearth the goals behind the effort and how this program connects with the family’s passion for the arts. 

(Belissa) This is our second edition of CreARTE – the first one launched in 2019. What inspired you most about the first iteration that made you want to offer it again this year? 

(Jorge) Seeing what our 2019-2020 grantees were able to accomplish in such a short period of time was hugely rewarding for me, especially during the height of the pandemic in 2020. From the creation and distribution of PPE to transitioning to a fully virtual work system, it was inspiring to see the grants being used in innovative ways that helped the organizations remain resilient through an extremely difficult year. For the second edition, our goal is to keep up this positive momentum in this new landscape and provide our beloved arts community with support where they need it most. 

While the program remains very much the same this time around in terms of structure, what changed about the guidelines? 

We went into the 2019-2020 inaugural edition knowing it’d be a learning year. The Miami Foundation was an integral partner in designing a grant program that spoke to our values and the opportunities in Miami. Together, The Miami Foundation and the Pérez Family Foundation spent the last year and a half conducting a robust evaluation of our program, as well as honing in on ways that will best serve the community as it stands today. Our focus areas – Arts Access, Arts Education, and Artists Fellowships and Residencies— do remain the same as they fill vital gaps currently present in the creative community, such as access to affordable workspaces, cultural equity, and education.  

Let’s talk more about the type of awards offered – why is it so important to you that grant support goes beyond just the program itself? 

The overarching goal of our program is ensuring that South Florida’s most pressing needs are met, and this can only be achieved by holistically addressing deep-rooted issues continuously affecting artistic nonprofits and their audiences. With that said, this year’s CreARTE grants will focus on empowering local nonprofit organizations to embrace artistic risk-taking, expand the diversity of creative experiences on offer, and present work that inspires the community.  

As part of the grant review process, we include external grant reviewers – please tell me why this aspect of the program so important to you.  

We find it crucial to consider the voice of experts, who have first-hand experience working in the community, be it as artists, teachers, or practitioners. This allows for authentic knowledge and insight during the selection process and as we assess budgets for each focus area.  

And so when your family engages those reviewers in the process, what is it that you ask them to prioritize when reviewing proposals? 

The Jorge M. Perez Family Foundation prioritizes scalable proposals that demonstrate bold, new approaches for addressing the needs of a rapidly changing creative environment; showcase dedication to advancing arts equity; offer the organizational capacity to implement the proposed program or initiative; provide evidence of strong networks and partnerships with others in the field; have a sound approach for measuring progress, and bear strong organizational leadership at all levels. 

What else do you want organizations in Miami to know about your philanthropy and the CreARTE program? 

At the center of everything the Foundation does is always to make the South Florida arts community a better place to live, play and work. My hope for this and every edition of CreARTE is to continue working with grantees to fuel lifelong interest in, and appreciation for, the arts, help them build audiences for the future, and, together, solidify South Florida as a world-class cultural destination. 

 

 

Image: Kitty Hawk Performance (Adrienne Arsht Center, 2019 CreARTE Grantee). 

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