Area groups awarded state grants

MARQUETTE – A number of Marquette County organizations were recently on the receiving end of more than $100,000 in grants from a state organization.

The Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs awarded grants to seven local organizations to be used for operational expenses.

Organizations that benefited from the grants were the Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center ($5,625), City of Marquette Arts and Culture Center ($12,000), Lake Superior Theatre ($11,250), Liberty Children’s Art Project ($17,000), the Marquette County Historical Society’s Marquette Regional History Center ($17,000), Marquette Symphony Orchestra ($17,000) and the U.P. Children’s Museum (two grants totaling $22,216).

“It’s really wonderful,” said Kaye Hiebel the executive director of the Marquette Regional History Center. “For non-profit organizations, we are all dependent on fundraising.”

The history center’s $17,000 grant will help fund the organization’s operations for the coming year.

“It’s definitely a component, but you can imagine what the expenses are for operating a facility like this,” said Hiebel, who added that the grants were awarded based on past experience and on the value of art and culture experiences offered by each organization.

In addition to a $17,000 grant to be used for operational support, the children’s museum also received a $5,216 grant for the purchase of two new heating systems.

Under the terms of the grant, the museum must have matching funds on-hand by Sep. 31.

“It is very competitive money, but because of the nature of it, it is wonderful money to have,” said Nheena Weyer Ittner, the museum’s executive director.

Ittner said her budget is about $400,000 per year and roughly 60 percent of that comes from earned income sources, including rental property, memberships and admissions.

“The rest of that money, I have to raise philanthropically,” she said. “It’s a daunting task.”

In total, the MCACA awarded more than 300 grants worth more than $5.6 million.

“The best our state has to offer is reflected in these grants. This industry provides an invaluable service to our communities, from Houghton-Hancock to Coldwater, from Holland to Port Huron,” said MCACA Executive Director John Bracey. “Beyond mere economy, these organizations give voice to the unspeakable. They really don’t recognize borders and crossing barriers is in their DNA. They welcome everyone to participate in their passion and give us something we can all do together. I am proud to be the director of MCACA and I’m proud of the work the field as a whole is doing for us all through MCACA funding.”

According to its website, the MCACA, part of the Michigan Strategic Fund/Michigan Economic Development Corporation, serves to encourage, develop and facilitate an enriched environment of artistic, creative and cultural activity in Michigan.

Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. His email address is