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Fresno plans to roll out arts funding this year. Here's what to know.

A dancer with Grupo Folklórico Tangu Yuu performs a dance from Nayarit during the Sept. 17, 2022 Fiestas Patrias celebration in downtown Fresno.
Vida en el Valle
A dancer with Grupo Folklórico Tangu Yuu performs a dance from Nayarit during the Sept. 17, 2022 Fiestas Patrias celebration in downtown Fresno.

FRESNO, Calif. – The first round of funding for arts programs in Fresno is expected this summer, years after residents passed the Measure P sales tax.

Measure P is a three-eighths percent sales tax ordinance that aims to raise funds to improve parks, recreation facilities and services, and the arts in the city. Twelve percent of funds from the measure are designated for arts and culture programs.

The Fresno Arts Council is leading the city’s implementation of a Cultural Arts Plan. The arts council also recently announced a call for applications for its “Expanded Access to Arts and Culture Fund.”

“We will begin to see the power of the arts to strengthen our community through engagement with programs and projects that speak to us in ways that motivate and inspire us all,” said Fresno Arts Council Executive Director Lilia Gonzalez Chavez in a news release. “I encourage everyone who is eligible to apply for this incredible opportunity.”

The city has already used Measure P funds to improve parks and build new ones.

What is Measure P?

Measure P caused controversy after it received a 52% vote of approval in 2018. City leaders questioned whether the initiative needed a two-thirds majority, but supporters of Measure P argued it only required a simple majority. The nonprofit Fresno Building Healthy Communities sued the city of Fresno after it decided not to approve the measure.

Justices with California’s Fifth District Court of Appeal then overturned the city’s decision, and declared Measure P had passed. It went into effect in mid 2021.

To date, the tax has generated about $9 million in grant money for arts and culture organizations and projects.

In recent years, the city held a number of community meetings with arts and culture stakeholders to develop a Cultural Arts Plan. It was finalized last year, and aims to set a vision for arts in Fresno. The plan will be updated every five years.

Surveys conducted during the plan’s creation found a majority of the activities attended by residents involve music, visual arts and cultural celebrations. The city is home to various culture arts centers such as the Fresno Art Museum, Fresno Arts Council, African American Museum, Armenian Museum and Arte Américas.

What to know about arts funding

Four types of grants will be awarded: Cultural Arts Organization General Operating Support, Emerging Cultural Arts Organization General Operating Support, Cultural Arts Project-Specific Support and Emerging Cultural Arts Project-Specific Support.

Awards range from $2,000 to up to $300,000. According to the Fresno Arts Council, funds will be prioritized to organizations and programs that support diverse public and youth engagement and equity.

The deadline to apply for the funds is March 25. Awards are expected to be announced in the summer and the grant period lasts from July through June 2025.

Esther Quintanilla reports on diverse communities for KVPR through the Central Valley News Collaborative, which includes The Fresno Bee, Vida en el Valle, KVPR and Radio Bilingüe.