Ayer Cultural Council awards grant money to local organizations
By Jon Bishop
AYER — The Ayer Cultural Council has awarded $5,100 to various organizations throughout the region, according to a press release from the group.
Sheila Schwabe, the chairwoman, said that one of the criteria in selecting the 15 organizations is that they either had to be near Ayer or affordable in price. That way, the maximum number of people in the community could benefit. Each organization sent in an application requesting a certain amount of money, and in some places, like the Ayer Library, aren’t getting funding from anywhere else — and so they take that into consideration.
“In a lot of cases, if we don’t fund the program, the program won’t go on,” she said. “In most cases, we were able to fund the full amount request.”
She said that the organizations they’ve worked with are a mix of new and old.
Grant-giving is important, she said, because, when budgets are tight, “the first things that get cut are the arts.” And arts and culture are important, because exposure to them “makes us well-rounded people.”
Amy Leonard, the children’s librarian at the Ayer Library, said that “it’s nice that they support the community through the library.”
“They were very generous to us, and we appreciate the support,” she added.
The library received $640 for the summer reading “Every Hero has a Story” project.
“We’re very excited,” said Samantha Benoit, the young adult librarian.
Another local organization, the Harvard-based Fruitlands Museum, received $300 to fund its Open Gates Initiative, which was its centennial celebration.
“This is the second year that they have funded Open Gates Initiative,” said Suzanne Smith, director of development at Fruitlands. Last year, on the museum’s 100th birthday, they had a free admission day, which they will be doing again this June.
“Cultural councils support organizations that benefit their town, and even though we’re in Harvard, we still have quite a few people who come here from Ayer,” she said.
Other organizations that received grant money include ArtsNashoba ($250), the Fitchburg Art Museum ($200), and the Nashoba Valley Chorale ($350).