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I am writing in response to a letter in your Feb. 1 edition. In “Grant Us Peace,” Diana Gamerman states that she was turned down for a grant by the Arlington County Commission for the Arts, while a “10-year-old white boy” was funded because we “did not want to hurt his feelings.”

Gamerman did indeed apply for a grant last year from the Arlington County Commission for the Arts and attended part of our Grants Day meeting where decisions on grant applications and funding are made.

The Arlington Commission for the Arts has a three-part review process for grants: (1) Expert panels of artists and arts professionals independently review the grants and make recommendations to the commission; (2) county cultural affairs’ professional staff review the grants and make recommendations to the commission; and (3) the commission, considering both these recommendations, makes the final decisions, subject to county board approval.

The commission’s charter and governing documents set forth the criteria on which we base decisions, as well as specific nondiscrimination factors. The specific criteria on which decisions are based encompass artistic excellence, managerial excellence, and community service. The nondiscrimination factors include race, religion, national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, and disability. These factors are irrelevant to the grant application process and decision-making by the commission.

Like many funding agencies, we have limited funds and receive many worthy grant applications. While Gamerman’s grant application was not funded by the commission, she was encouraged in person by the commission to consider revising it and resubmitting it for future consideration.

And to set the record straight, the “10-year-old white boy” to whom she referred in her letter was in fact a 10-year-old girl, whose grant proposal was not funded. The only reason that the commission knew this information was because the applicant provided it voluntarily in her application.


Arlington County Commission for the Arts