Saturday, June 23, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 16

Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on February 12th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 13, Issue 49 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 13, Issue 49

Granting art a future

The Santa Maria Arts Council Grants Competition is a continuing tradition of rewarding aspiring local artists for their craft


The cliché of the starving artist may be exaggerated at times, but it’s not always far off the mark. While aspiring artists may have a healthy food budget, they may be starved for many of the resources they need to continue and explore their craft.

The winners’ view:
Winners of the Santa Maria Arts Council’s Grants Competition perform as part of the annual Grants Competition Showcase event, scheduled for May 20 this year. Pictured is the audience at the 2012 event.

The Santa Maria Arts Council has been meeting the needs of local student artists for more than 40 years now, rewarding at least $10,000 every year to local visual and performing artists.

“The grants were established to support people as they make that long journey from amateurs to real-life artists and performers,” said Marti Fast, grants co-chair for the Santa Maria Arts Council. “It’s not a contest, it’s a competition, and the level of ability is pretty high.”

The grants are in the form of a $1,500 first-place award and a $1,000 second-place award in the categories of visual arts, dance, acting, and music. I should mention that I won second place last year in the music category, a wonderful experience and much-appreciated financial boost to my creative endeavors.

But I wouldn’t have been able to compete if I hadn’t attended one of the grants application workshops, two of which are still available for participants to attend. People hoping to compete must attend one of the workshops in order to get an application and information on the competition requirements. The two remaining workshops are scheduled for Feb. 19 at Allan Hancock College’s Lompoc campus and March 2 on Allan Hancock College’s Santa Maria campus.

“We hold application workshops to make certain the applicants meet the residency and age requirements,” Fast said, “and if they do, we walk them through the process and application.”

Applicants must be 12 years old or older and have studied art in Santa Barbara County within the last two years. Residency boundaries include people living in or between Santa Ynez, Lompoc, Santa Maria, Guadalupe, and Cuyama.

Catch the show
The Santa Maria Arts Council offers informational meetings about its annual Grants Competition awarding grants in dance, visual arts, acting, and music. Competitors must attend one informational meeting, be at least 12 years old, and have studied art in Northern Santa Barbara County for a minimum of two years. Workshops include a Feb. 19 meeting at 8 p.m. at the Allan Hancock College Lompoc Center, Room 1-204/5, Lompoc. A March 2 meeting is at 10 a.m. at Allan Hancock College, Room F-11, 800 S. College, Santa Maria. More info: 459-1503,, or

Applicants must also procure three letters of recommendation from teachers. Actors and musicians must provide a headshot, and visual artists must provide four photo samples of their work. They also must write out a five-year plan and what they plan to do with the grant money if they win. The deadline to turn in the completed application, with all the aforementioned requirements, is March 22.

“It can get introspective,” Fast said. “Some use it for tuition, supplies, and sometimes it’s just that extra bit that gives them room to pour their passion into their art rather than spend those hours bussing tables just trying to make rent.”

The Santa Maria Arts Council manages to judge all the applicants in the four media on one day; this year, that’s set for April 20. Several volunteers come together to organize the competition, making sure everything is organized and performers and displayers know their time and place. The judges for the competition are volunteers as well, and come from a range of experience and institutions including Cal Poly, UCSB, and private studios.

“It’s really amazing, the span of knowledge our judges need to have to do a good job for us,” Fast said. “And it’s neat, because they really believe in what the grants are about. Everybody wants to see young people succeed and grow.”

Should a young artist win first or second place, he or she will be required to do two more things to qualify. First, they have to present at the Santa Maria Arts Council Grants Competition Showcase event—set for May 20 this year. Visual artists will display their work while first- and second-place performers will act, dance, and make music.

The winners must also provide some volunteer time to the Santa Maria Arts Council in the years after they receive the award.

Each year, the Santa Maria Arts Council names an honoree for the Grants Competition. This year, Bill and Jean Shinn are the honorees for the grants. Bill, a celebrated ceramist who passed away in 2011, is survived by his wife Jean, also an acclaimed ceramist and artist. The two have been integral parts of the artistic community and Santa Maria Arts Council, Fast explained.

Speaking from personal experience, there’s hardly a warmer reception found for the young artist who performs or shows art as part of the competition and showcase. The Santa Maria Arts Council truly stands as a community treasure that seeks to aid and guide promising young talent on their way to an artistic career and future.

Arts Editor Joe Payne is truly grateful for the Santa Maria Arts Council. Contact him at

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