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Funding Dreams is a Full-Time Job for Laura Scanlan

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Laura Scanlan | Arts Partnerships

Laura Scanlan would like local artists to know one thing: There are grants available to support their work. “We need to make sure that Delawareans know what our grant programs are. And we have work to do.” As director of state and regional partnerships for the National Endowment for the Arts, Scanlan says, “It’s a very important role I can play in Delaware and beyond.” Before beginning her career in arts administration, Scanlan worked in financial services while serving on the boards of the Delaware Theatre Company and the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts. The experience showed her the direct impact the arts can have on someone’s life. In 2000, she became director of the Delaware Division of the Arts, where she worked until 2005. While overseeing the division—a conduit for funding from the NEA—and, later, serving on an NEA grant review board, she became well-acquainted with staff there, as well as its work across the country. Then the NEA offered her a job in November 2009. “I was really drawn to this opportunity to take my bird’s-eye view up a level,” Scanlan says, yet she still works closely with state and regional arts organizations. “Because of Laura’s past experience heading a state arts agency, she has firsthand knowledge of, and experience with, how state arts agencies work,” says Paul Weagraff, director of the Delaware Division of the Arts. “She understands the multiple stakeholders that look to the state arts agency for support and leadership.” Based on state legislative appropriations, Delaware ranked third among the 50 states in per-capita funding for the arts for fiscal 2014, the second year in the row, Scanlan notes. State funding is sound, in large part, thanks to a supportive administration—where else would the governor and first lady perform “Love Letters” in a local theater? she asks—and a legislature that values the economic impact of a healthy arts scene, as well as the personal enrichment it provides. Which leads to another point she’d like to make: “September is the start of a new season for the arts. Engage, participate and get excited about the arts in Delaware.”

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