Money might be the least savory part of an artist’s livelihood, but it can be as crucial as inspiration, talent, exposure or any other aspect. And for the time being, public funding provides one noncommercial way for artists to grab some extra scratch.
The Nevada Arts Council’s biennial fellowship program—FY17 honors visual artists, while next year’s FY18 endows those working in the literary and performing arts—funnels that public money toward selected artists, and this year’s slate of winners includes eight Nevadans, five of whom reside in the Valley. Winners of this year’s Fellowship Grant, and $5,000 apiece, include Matthew Couper (for painting), Bobbie Ann Howell (drawing) and Andreana Donahue (mixed media), while Donald Corpier Starr (drawing) and Gig S. Depio Jr. (painting) nabbed honorable mention grants and $500 each.
That cash often supplements sales and commissions, which, for an artist like Couper, typically go right back into expenses like materials, research and travel; such a fellowship grant will allow him to extend his practice even further. For Howell, she’ll similarly consider the expansion of her work—and breathe a little easier when it comes to maintaining a place to do her work. “I just learned last week about the fellowship, and [I’m] thinking, hooray, this will help cover some of my studio rent, which is always on my mind,” she says. “Having a space to work is vital. I am currently working towards two exhibitions I have in the fall.”
Beyond the money, though, receiving a fellowship grant is significant for the artists because it’s from home. Couper is one of the rare Vegas artists who regularly shows his work internationally, but a local fellowship like FY17 holds an entirely different weight. And for Howell, the award carries both residential and personal importance. “There are many talented artists in our state, and to be selected this time and with this group is very special to me,” she says. “I have applied for years and think the program itself is very important to artists in Nevada. It recognizes the contributions the arts and artists make to the fabric of our communities.”