Eric Haynes/Courier VAMS Dean Joseph Futtner sits at his desk in his office on May 2, 2018. Futtner's "Artists in Residence" program, which students gain exposure to credited artists, has successfully received a $25,000 grant from the Pasadena Art Alliance, who's a sponsor of the school's extensive art galleries and exhibitions.
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PCC’s visual arts and media studies division accepted a generous grant given by the Pasadena Art Alliance back on March 14 that spawned relief among faculty over budget restraints.

The Pasadena Art Alliance (PAA) is a non-profit organization mostly comprised of women who work to support the contemporary visual arts in Southern California by offering awards and grants to those deserving. PCC has had an extensive history with the PAA, though previous grants have generally ranged between $13,000 and $14,000, according to Dean Joseph Futtner of the visual arts and media studies division.

This grant toppled over the rest, standing at an extensive $25,000. It will not only make a larger impact towards students wishing to pursue scholarships but will also aid gallery efforts, to which this grant was largely attributed to. Futtner specifically mentioned the impact on the annual Artist-in-Residence program headed by a professor of the fine arts, Mahara Sinclaire.

“We have now really broken the record here and that was the product of a lot of hard work, to a lesser degree, my participation, and very much based on the efforts of Mahara Sinclaire, who is the gallery director,” Futtner said. “She has done a good job of developing a relationship with the Pasadena Art Alliance.”

The Artist-in-Residence program has been with PCC since its creation back in 1987 by Professor Suzanne Bravender. It focuses on bringing in credited artists within the Los Angeles area to stay on campus for a limited amount of time to interact with students as well as showcase their work through gallery exhibitions.

“It’s very exciting…when you meet somebody who is successfully interacting with the LA art world; that’s when you just learn a lot,” Sinclaire said. “You’ll find that many successful artists ask a lot of questions; they’re very interested in the world around them. They tend to be very curious, very open and present in the world [and] it’s a huge benefit to the students.”

That being said, orchestrating a large gallery event such as this isn’t easy, and it requires not only a lot of time but money to fulfill. The PAA generally has always been the largest contributor to PCC’s art funding needs.

“They recognize that, as a public institution, we are woefully underfunded relative to our ambition,” Futtner said. “This is the fate of the community college system; it’s one that wishes it had a lot more money than we do currently.”

The relief and pride achieved from this accomplishment can’t be understated, according to Dean Futtner. He believes that with this “breathing room,” faculty that fall under the grant’s criteria could get a sense that they could perhaps do more now without as much pressure.

Unfortunately, the grant doesn’t cover the whole spectrum of opportunities for artists hoping to obtain scholarships. Richard Osaka, a professor of the visual arts but also a high-ranking representative of PCC’s Spring Scholarship Exhibitions, helps to judge students who apply to test their abilities and compete for the funding of their futures. Winners not only receive scholarships but also have their work exhibited to the public.

“I think [it’s] a boost to their morales,” Osaka said. “It’s almost like a nice pat on the back, recognition that your doing good work and are being recognized from various teachers at school.”

This year, their committee is trying something new by allowing for the sending of applications and work digitally, which was largely attributed to the hard work and determination of professor and photography expert Christopher O’Leary. This specific program doesn’t fall under the jurisdiction of the grant so it unfortunately doesn’t apply.

This doesn’t necessarily have a huge impact towards students but more so towards the committee who hopes to push them forward. Granted, other forms of funding do come in from different areas.

Mahara Sinclaire, whose galleries do apply under the grant’s conditions, is excited to put this funding to good use during the upcoming spring season of Artist-in-Residence. Bringing in the talents of Marnie Weber, Kyla Hansen and Alison Petty Ragguette, Sinclaire will be “emphasizing female artists” for the coming year and hopes that many will attend.

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