LEOMINSTER — Over $43,000 has been awarded in grants to dozens of local groups, organizations, and individuals under the Leominster Cultural Council umbrella.
LCC recently announced it received $39,700 in grant funding from the state to disperse this year. Due to COVID-19 pandemic cancellations over the past couple years they had $4,000 in grant money never used and were able to put that back into the pool to be awarded in 2023.
This year’s recipients include the library and Spanish-American Center for children’s programming, North Worcester County Symphony for their May concert, the city for Starburst in June, Clear Path for Veterans New England, Friends of Sholan Farms for programs at the scenic city owned farm, musicians, performers, and many more.
“The Leominster Cultural Council grants support programs from young children to seniors,” said LCC Secretary LuAnn Longenecker. “There is also a wonderful diversity in the area, and we celebrate that through grants to ethnic-related events. We are thankful that the state recognizes the power of arts and culture and entrusts us with funding to support local organizations and artists who may be otherwise challenged financially in reaching audiences.”
As one of 329 local and regional cultural councils serving all 351 Massachusetts cities and towns, LCC annually evaluates and awards grants that support the arts, sciences, and humanities to improve and contribute to the diversity of the community. The grants are funded with the policies and guidelines set by the Massachusetts Cultural Council with the annual amount subject to legislative appropriations.
The approved 2023 LCC grantees requested a total of $67,600. Longenecker said they voted to award each approved applicant a portion of the total amount available.
“Applications were rated on a number of criteria, [which are] posted on our page on the city and state websites, and those with higher ratings received a higher percentage of monies that they requested,” she said.
Out of 52 applicants who requested a portion of this year’s funding, 43 of those were approved as grantees and have been officially notified.
“Those we declined were primarily from applicants outside of Leominster, for example, the Cape, who could not demonstrate their program’s relevance to the citizens of Leominster,” Longenecker shared. “In a couple of cases, the required paperwork was missing. Denied applicants were notified and then given a state-mandated appeal period; we received no appeals.”
The longtime city resident is one of eight current LCC members serving three-year rotating terms. She said they are “still cleaning up” from COVID cancellations and postponements and that some of the grantees were able to request an extension per state guidelines.
Leominster Colonial Band Manager John DeCicco said they are grateful for the continued support from LCC, which enables them to “continue our mission to bring live professional musical performances to the masses at no charge for all to enjoy.” He said they are already planning their 2023 holiday concert, an annual favorite among locals, and that they “look forward to our continued partnership with the LCC.”
“On behalf of the Leominster Colonial Band I would like to extend our gratitude to the Council for its continued support to this holiday tradition in our City,” he shared in a recent email to the council regarding December’s concert. “This year’s attendance was the largest ever, exceeding 250 representing all ages from young children and their families to seniors of our city. It was most gratifying for all of us on stage to be able to see and experience the energy that filled the auditorium on that day.”
Public recognition of all the 2023 LCC grant recipients will take place at the 30th annual Johnny Appleseed Arts and Cultural Festival on Sept. 23, which is funded in part with LCC grant money. Longenecker said LCC is thrilled to provide funding to help promote arts and culture in the city.
“Leominster has a unique history and many cultural events highlight our past, keeping alive people and stories,” she relayed. “There is a strong sense of community here and events such as concerts, outdoor festivals, etc. bring folks together in a spirit of belonging.”
She went on to say that Massachusetts Cultural Council State Program Officer Hanako Brais attended the Johnny Appleseed Festival last September and “commented on the unique to Leominster celebration and how happy everyone attending seemed, such a cheerful atmosphere. She felt that there was a strong sense of community celebration.”