Harmon Arts Grant Program Looking for Applicants

Harmon Arts

Photo by Ryan Martin.


The Town of Normal is looking for applications for their annual Harmon Arts Grant Program, which funds art related projects, programs, and events in the community. 

The grants are available to art organizations for programs or events that take place between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015. 

The Harmon Arts Grant Program was created in 1993, in honor of former mayor Paul Harmon, to help promote art within the community. 

Since the programs inception it has typically given out around $30,000 to $35,000 in grants annually. The program was discontinued briefly in 2009 during the economic downturn when the city was cutting it’s budget. The program was brought back in 2012 and awarded $35,000 in grants that year. 

In 2013 there were more than $102,000 worth of requests in applications for grants from various local art organizations. 

The grants awarded in 2013 ranged from $600 to $4,000, and averaged between $1,000 and $1,500 each. 

“We try to spread the money out between different organizations and different types of art,” Sally Heffernan, Assistant City Manager of Normal, explained. “We like to reach a variety of audiences.”

The largest grant in 2013, worth $4,000, was used to provide 320 Unit 5 students and 40 chaperones free concert tickets and transportation to see the Illinois Symphony Orchestra.

Other 2013 grant recipients include The Community Players, who were awarded $1,200 to put on special performances of “The Diary of Anne Frank” in local schools, and Concerts on the Quad, a very popular summer series of free outdoor performances on Illinois State’s quad.

This year the city will be raising their funding to $50,000 worth of grants in response to the number of applications last year. 

Though any art organization can apply for the grants, priority will be given to programs that fit a certain criteria. 

“We tend to fund programs that take place in the town of Normal, before we would fund a similar program elsewhere in McLean County,” Heffernan explained. “We look for programs administered by established community non-profit organizations, rather than for profit businesses. We also prefer programs and events that are more accessible to the public, particularly seniors, students, and low income residents.”

Applications for the grant will be accepted through May 16th. The maximum grant award is $5,000. The applications will be reviewed by the Harmon Arts Grant Committee, which will make recommendations to the Normal Town Council. The council will then select the grantees in June, and present the awards on July 7th. 

“It’s exciting every year to watch the applications come in,” Heffernan said. “They really run the gamut of all types of art.”

Unlike many grants, this one is not a reimbursement grant. Money will be given upfront to those who are awarded the grants, after they sign a contract.

“A lot of these organizations don’t have the funds to pay for the things upfront and then ask for reimbursement,” Heffernan said. “The fact that we give the money upfront is really helpful to them.”

More information on the grants, as well as the full application for them, is available on the town of Normal’s website at www.normal.org.