The Grant Money Directing Art Creation And Sexual Assault Resources Is All About Control, Not Assistance

by Travis Mateer

After reading two articles yesterday about how grant money is being directed locally, I realized that most people who hear about how grant money is used probably assume the stated intent is the REAL intent, when, in reality, the intent is to CONTROL, not assist, the recipients.

Let’s begin with the $300,000 dollar grant for “violence prevention” recently announced by the University of Montana. How will this money help prevent violence, you are probably wondering? Here’s a quote from the article describing how this money will be used (emphasis mine):

SARC, the Student Advocacy Resource Center at the University of Montana, recently earned a $300,000 federal grant to offer critical support for domestic violence and sexual assault prevention at UM and in the Missoula community.

The grant, from the national Office on Violence Against Women, will fund the UM PEACE Project (Prevention Education Anti-Violence Collaborative Effort). About $100,000 will be spent each year over the next three years. A bulk of the grant will fund a PEACE Project director, who will be hired by next year and add more capacity to SARC.

In addition, the grant will support a social media marketing campaign, outreach and training, and collaboration with community partners and other campuses across the nation. The project director will coordinate the work with both campus and Missoula community partners, said SARC Director Jen Euell.

Yes, hire a person who will have a personal priority of KEEPING THAT PAYCHECK, and then direct the rest to some fucking obnoxious social media marketing campaign.

Who is ACTUALLY assisted by this grant? The University benefits, that’s for sure, because they can point to this money and pretend it will change the reality on the ground for those hoping the system can produce something called “justice” when they’re drugged and raped downtown on a weekend night after going to one of our fine alcohol-peddling establishments.

Creating new, paid positions, then filling them with well-meaning people, is a very effective control mechanism because whoever is hired will inevitably realize, at some point, that the system they thought they could help reform from the inside is actually more like a complex, living organism that will enact sophisticated methods of self-preservation when “attacked” with attempts to change it. Their energy is then directed toward developing rationalizations that dampen their complicity in failing to fix the system they are being paid to keep functioning.

Now, let’s say I’m a talented artist who wants to bring attention to this process of systemic entanglement undermining well-meaning people but, like most people, I’m not independently wealthy enough to self-finance with the kind of loot it takes to make and, more importantly, PROMOTE, a work of art, like a documentary?

Should I go in search of grant money? Some artists did, thanks to “Rescue Plan” money, and now those efforts are beginning to come to the stages of Missoula, entering minds and shaping opinions. From the link:

The funds are “intended to boost Montana’s creative economy as it continues to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 epidemic,” according to the council’s website.

The MAC put out a call for applications and received 268 applications. It was able to fund 89. Thirty-nine artists in western Montana on this side of the divide (plus one on the Blackfeet Reservation) were accepted, for a total of $329,210 in funding.

So, what kind of projects got money? Did an aging hipster who got sad when Krakauer wrote HIS book about Missoula’s criminal justice system get some money?

Yes. Yes he did. And soon Missoula can benefit from this (sort of) artist and his take on the Wilma.

If you’re NOT excited, here’s a picture I took of the Smetanka in July as he was pointing his hipster camera at his subject:

From the Missoulian link:

Filmmaker Andy Smetanka is working on a short documentary, “I Am The Wilma Theater,” about the historic venue. It will feature Annie Garde, the retired “Pea Green Boat” host, with a score by John Sporman, a bassist/composer with a history of writing for film and dance.

How far up Nick Checota’s ass did this artist place his brown nose? Since I haven’t seen this “short documentary” yet, I can’t say, but I’m eager to see it and report back.

Before Nick Checota owned the Wilma, an eccentric by the name of Edward Sharp ran it. I have a rare publication from the 90’s about Sharp and his “dove”, Koro Hatto. The oddest part of the Wilma back then was the Chapel of the Dove, the remnants of which you can see at Rockin Rudy’s:

This part of the Chapel was saved from destruction by the owner of Rockin Rudy’s, Bruce Micklus. I spoke with Bruch recently and he told me about being contacted when the Wilma was being renovated awhile back. If Bruce hadn’t said yes to taking this piece of Missoula history (he said his building was the only one tall enough to house it) then it would be lost to us.

Below is an image from the publication I purchased last year showing the ornate wooden contraption in its original location.

Bruce was impressed I knew as much as I did about Edward Sharp’s role in Missoula because this history isn’t readily available anymore. Will Smetanka’s documentary help fix that? I genuinely hope so. Even though I find Smetanka’s hipster style to be rather insufferable, if he helps archive this weird part of Missoula’s history, I’ll be happy.

Rockin Rudy’s has another relic from the Wilma I wasn’t aware of; a large case used to display jewelry, which is pictured below. Bruce told me it used to display the outfit of an opera singer, probably the same one who used to own the Roxy and was the namesake of the Wilma, Edna Wilma Simon.

I find this history fascinating and don’t need someone throwing a bunch of money at me to document it, though that sure would be nice, like maybe a cool $100,000 to develop my rock opera about Edward Sharp returning in spirit to haunt Checota, poltergeist style, sending him back to where he came from (Wisconsin).

While I wait for a rich benefactor to fund my rock opera, I’ll continue plugging away at the true crime underbelly of this mountain town that’s become a city in the eyes of our elected (and non-elected) leaders, because that’s what I’m called to do.

If you’d like to help fund my efforts, check the donation button at my about page. Any amount is appreciated.

Thanks for reading!

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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