GARY | With the receipt of 501c3 status and support from various individuals, organizations and foundations, the Miller Beach Arts & Creative District is set to expand its canvas and broaden its strokes in the Midwest arts community.
The MBACD was formed in April, 2011 when Miller resident Eric Reaves brought interested citizens together to discuss creating a Lake Street entity that promotes art, culture, creativity, and economic development for community transformation. The MBACD incorporated and applied for 501c3 status in January.
“Now anyone who makes a donation or has made one since we incorporated can claim it with the IRS as tax-deductible,” Board President Karren Lee explained. “This also allows the MBACD to apply for grants that require a 501c3 status.”
“We will be submitting grant requests for a strategic plan from an outside professional organization to help us develop our organization in the most efficient way to accomplish our mission,” she continued. “We’re expanding rapidly and need paid staff in order to expand our programming.”
While the group’s hub, the Marshall J. Gardner Center, 540 S. Lake St., still needs funding for ADA-compliant bathrooms, a permanent solution for the basement water issue, and other projects that will complete its restoration, a grant from the John S. & James L. Knight Donor Advised Fund at Legacy Foundation has allowed installation of central air conditioning.
“The Legacy Foundation helped us early on by funding five of our Pop Up Art events, providing funding for the gallery lighting, and one month’s operating expenses,” she added.
“They have been invaluable partners in instructing us in community building, helping us set priorities, and teaching us the best grant-writing practices,” Lee said. “Through the Legacy Foundation, we successfully applied and received grants from the Knight Foundation for 150 folding chairs, a projector, and DVD for our monthly lecture/movie series.”
Thousands of people have attended each of the organization’s 10 Pop Up events, with exhibiting artists, live music, graffiti painting and an antique auto show. Lee said feedback from spectators, performers, and exhibiting artists has been overwhelmingly positive and grant-providing associations are taking notice.
The Indiana Arts Commission has given the MBACD more than $8,000 for programs over a two-year period, Lee said, adding the Miller Community Fund, Miller Community Corporation, Miller Business Association, and Gary Art Works have lent financial support for monthly operations, holiday decorations, MJGC basement-cleaning, and special events.
Other MBACD-sponsored events have included opera recitals, movie and lecture evenings, choral performances and gallery exhibits.
“Our goal is to bring as many different types of art and events as we can, to appeal to the widest possible range of tastes,” she said. “People who visit can enjoy Lake Michigan and our beaches, our restaurants, the art, and the music.”
For more information, visit millerbeacharts.org.