Not Taken for Granted

tourism agency gives groups their due via grant program

Barbara Arnold, photos by Marisa Wojcik |

The Eau Claire Municipal Band was among the groups that recently received a Visit Eau Claire grant.
The Eau Claire Municipal Band was among the groups that recently
received a Visit Eau Claire grant.

Here’s one more reason to make Eau Claire your entertainment and culture destination. The minute you spend filling out a Visit Eau Claire survey at a local event could turn into moolah for local nonprofits and volunteer groups. Visit Eau Claire, whose mission is to develop the tourism industry in the Eau Claire area, recently awarded $20,260 to 13 organizations through its Tourism and Cultural Arts Grant program.

Top recipients included the Eau Claire Ski Club, which got $3,000 to help promote the Silver Mine Invitational and North American Nordic Combined championships; the Eau Claire Regional Arts Council, which received $2,500 for community arts education; and Sculpture Tour Eau Claire, which got $2,000 for next year’s program. Other recipients were: Eau Claire Youth Hockey, Flying Eagles Ski Club, Minnesota MG Group, Wisconsin Parent Teacher Association, Eau Claire Municipal Band, the Master Singers, Eau Claire Chamber Orchestra, Friends of the Chippewa Valley Symphony, Chippewa Valley Jazz Orchestra, and the Eau Claire Chamber Orchestra.

Interested groups must submit applications to Visit Eau Claire in the competition, and grants are awarded twice a year. Now in its 25th year, the tourism grant program uses funds that come from an allocation of room tax dollars by the City of Eau Claire, which are then leveraged by Visit Eau Claire to secure additional cultural grants from the Wisconsin Arts Board. The tourism grant projects must have a significant impact on overnight stays within the city of Eau Claire, while the cultural arts grants projects do not have to have a room night impact.

The idea of the program is to provide seed money to bridge the gap between great ideas and the limited resources of area nonprofit and volunteer organizations, according to Linda John, executive director of Visit Eau Claire. It’s an ideal way to “incubate” those ideas into new arts and tourism opportunities that will attract locals and visitors. In turn, the organizations grow and become more successful. It’s a win-win for everyone.