Sandpoint arts organizations receive state grants

By Zach Hagadone
Reader Staff

The Idaho Commission on the Arts announced a long list of fiscal year 2023 grants Aug. 1, amounting to $645,592 that will support 81 organizations and schools across 27 communities in the state. Included among those grants were several going to the Music Conservatory of Sandpoint; Pend Oreille Arts Council; Creations for Sandpoint, Arts Alliance, Inc.; the Festival at Sandpoint; and Panida Theater.

Grant recipients will match their awards with funds raised from their local communities, with a goal of spurring economic growth around the state. According to the commission, the arts generate $1.8 billion each year, making up 2.2% of the Idaho economy, as well as supporting 19,113 jobs.

“Artistic production is good business,” stated Idaho Commission on the Arts Chair Steve Allred in the grants announcement.

The Music Conservatory of Sandpoint received $7,622 under an arts education grant, in addition to $4,523 for its public arts programs.

Kathi Samuels, board president for the conservatory, told the Reader that two-thirds of the funds will go toward supporting MCS’s Summer Academy, which is happening right now, and consists of two, two-week sessions.

“The kids are having a blast,” she said, particularly with the marimba, which is a new instrument for the program this year.

The remaining third of the grant dollars will be applied to general operations, which can go to supporting classes and programming for 250 students. 

“We have more than 20 musicians and teachers on staff, so you can imagine we are always seeking grant funding and new community partners,” Samuels said, adding that with an outreach budget of about $80,000 per year, “this support from ICA is much needed,” particularly in keeping tuition costs affordable.

The grants come at a time of expansion for MCS, and Samuels said the funds will ensure the “music within our walls [is] non-stop.” 

“Now that we have completed renovation of the Little Carnegie Concert Hall, music is also spilling out into the street,” she said. “There’s no limit to our classes and student training as our support grows.”

POAC was awarded $4,769 via an entry track grant, which is intended to offer reliable, continuing support for the work of professional arts organizations in Idaho.

“Funding for these programs strengthens our state culturally and economically, while providing Idahoans with the invaluable experiences of performances, gallery exhibits, special events and workshops in all artistic disciplines,” according to the commission. “Successful applicants demonstrated exceptional artistic merit, clearly defined management and the public value of their work.”

POAC Executive Director Tone Lund told the Reader that this is the first year the organization has sought an entry track grant from the commission, and in the past has secured state funding for programs such as Kaleidoscope, Ovations, Showstoppers, Art for Life and others.

“We are so excited that this entry track grant will provide POAC with stable, ongoing support of all our programs and not just one specific one,” Lund said. 

Also in the public programs in the arts category, Creations for Sandpoint received $5,132, the Festival was awarded $11,123 and the Panida garnered $5,098.

Panida Managing Director Veronica Knowlton told the Reader that the theater’s award was earmarked for general operations, but will be put toward the Panida’s new roof project. 

“We’re in the process of applying for a multitude of grants to help cover the $150,000 project,” she said, adding, “We’ve currently been awarded close to $50,000 in grants for the project.”

If patrons would like to donate directly to the effort, they can do so at

Idaho Commission on the Arts Executive Director Michael Faison thanked elected leaders throughout the state for their support of the commission’s services. 

“These grants are catalysts for Idahoans of all ages in every region to enjoy our rich cultural legacy and for Idaho students to thrive with creative learning opportunities in and out of school,” he stated. 

The commission acts as the official state agency for supporting and expanding the arts in Idaho, promoting creative excellence and education, as well as ensuring access to and community investment in the arts.

For more information on the commission and future grant opportunities, visit

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