History of the Lincoln Arts Council
Lincoln Arts Council (LAC) has helped develop arts services and programming since its inception in 1968 in response to the growing community and the increasing professionalism of area arts organizations. LAC held public art festivals in the 1970's, developed a Lincoln Community Arts Fund in the 1980's (which continues to generate funds for cultural projects) and spearheaded a community cultural plan, directed by Boston Arts Marketing Alliance, in the 1990's. We created a community arts portal in 2000 that enabled the entire arts community to post events and information at a central location and brought Lincoln's arts community into the 21st century. Our previously developed programs continue to grow.
We are the umbrella organization for more than 65 arts groups in Lincoln, and as one of 3,800 local arts agencies that network nationally, LAC cultivates connections between and among large and small organizations to further their common interests in increasing professionalism, building new audiences, utilizing technology and providing underserved populations access to the arts. LAC staff, board and committee members serve as advisors to city departments, school and community events, and individual artists and organizations.
LAC has been fortunate to receive several major grant awards in the past decade. A $250,000 technology grant from Woods Charitable Fund, Inc. allowed us to lead the arts community in assessing and planning for their technological needs, which resulted in technology re-grants to arts organizations. LAC had five proposals funded by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) for a $118,000 total ($23,600 annual average). Three grants directly funded capacity building projects that enabled us to focus on expanding support for the arts in Lincoln.
With capacity building well under way, LAC focused on a second area of need: Lincoln's New American Artists. The $30,000 grant project was funded by the NEA Folklore Infrastructure Program. With the help of local folklorist Roger Welsch, LAC, using AmeriCorps members, undertook indexing the traditional arts of Lincoln's 30,000 new American immigrants and refugees. This program continues to be active, and the latest scope of the project is after-school arts programming for underserved youth.
We also conducted Lincoln's first large public art project, Tour de Lincoln, which placed 71 sculptures throughout Lincoln for exhibition prior to auction and raised $430,000 for the arts in Lincoln. The two-day public opening that attracted 21,000 people illustrated how art builds community. Stories of Home, a three-year project celebrating family and diversity within our human community, was led by renowned artist Pepón Osorio and inspired 12 public sculptures based on the stories of 12 diverse families.
Lincoln Arts Council has employed numerous AmeriCorps members so that they may develop their talents and discover their passions. As a result, we are able to create incredible value for both LAC and AmeriCorps, whose members play an integral role designing and guiding numerous projects, including our cultural tourism project marketing Lincoln as a cultural destination in Nebraska; the annual public display of art by city employees through The National Arts Program; our multicultural arts initiative; and an artist residency series.
As an organization that has served Lincoln for over 40 years, we are pleased to be able to preserve and expand our community's cultural history. LAC is housed in Lincoln's Old City Hall.