NEA Grant Supports Nonprofit Haven for Artists to Hone Skills in Boise Area

In the front room of an otherwise quiet, well-manicured home, a cellist taps his bare foot to the hardwood floor while bending over his instrument to play a piece of classical music that had never been played before. He lives temporarily here at Surel’s Place, a nonprofit on the banks of the Boise River in Garden City where both promising and renown artists come and go to hone their skills.

Surel’s Place has arrived as well. The artist-in-residency program is one of three Idaho nonprofit initiatives to receive a grants for the arts from the National Endowment for the Arts. Rebecca Kelada, executive director of Surel’s Place, said she didn’t expect to win the $10,000 NEA award in her first application, but is happy, nonetheless, to use the recognition to bolster outreach to area schools and expand the organization’s staff.

Each month, a different artist lives and creates at Surel’s Place. The artists, who hail from around the country and globe, host a public workshop and performance or reading during their stay. As they move in, Boise area residents and visitors are exposed to more artists and arts including Grammy-nominated cellist Dave Eggar, last month.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of, applauds the NEA and other foundations that support grants for the arts projects that build stronger and vibrant communities, improve well-being and quality of life, and prepares students to succeed. She said GrantWatch lists many of these funding opportunities which aim to  extend the arts to underserved populations.

The live-in residence program at Surel’s Place is one-of-a-kind in Idaho. K. Tempest Bradford, a former artist-in-residence, used her stay at Surel’s Place to work on a book, a steam punk novel set in Ancient Egypt. She said somehow her experience in Boise will find a place in her work.

Surel’s Place is named for Kelada’s late mother, Surel Mitchell – a local painter who built her home as a place to create her art. Following her death in 2011, the city established the Surel Mitchell Live Work District around her home.

Eventually, the site became Surel’s Place, a nonprofit gallery and a residence for visiting artists who need shelter, space and time to create. Since then, art-related small businesses have flocked to Garden City as a place to set up shop.

Kelada said her mother was aware of the competitive nature for funding the arts and would be proud of both the accomplishments of the nonprofit she inspired as well as the NEA validation.

Nonprofits, public and private foundations, small businesses and entrepreneurs frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants for the arts can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at

About the Author: Staff Writer at

Libby Hikind

Libby Hikind, began her grant writing career while working as a teacher in the New York City Department of Education. She wrote many grants for her classroom before raising $11 million for a Brooklyn school district. Throughout her professional career, she established her own grant writing agency in Staten Island with a fax newsletter for her clients of available grants. After retiring from teaching, Libby embraced the new technology and started GrantWatch. She then moved GrantWatch and her grant writing agency to Florida to enjoy her parents later years, and the rest is history. Today more than 250,000 people visit online, monthly.

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