The Greater Columbus Arts Council this year will look to improve its granting process, boost support for emerging artists and find additional funding sources for local organizations, according to new president Milton Baughman.

The Greater Columbus Arts Council this year will look to improve its granting process, boost support for emerging artists and find additional funding sources for local organizations, according to new president Milton Baughman.

The former Huntington National Bank executive took over the position Dec. 9 after holding the interim post since September 2009. He discussed GCAC's 2011 goals with Alive earlier this week.

"Grant-making is important for us, and we've just issued new grant guidelines in the last couple of weeks that reflect a lot of work this year," Baughman said. "I think we'll help grantees or potential grantees be more effective in how they approach us and hopefully [be] more effective in our ability to meet their needs."

Last year, GCAC gave roughly $3.9 million to established organizations, community groups, school programs and individual artists. About $2 million of that went to larger local groups such as BalletMet, the Wexner Center for the Arts and the Columbus Museum of Art.

The council last year gave money to 80 grantees - exactly double its 2009 total. This number represents an increase in smaller groups and individual artists, who had borne the brunt of significant funding cuts in 2009.

Among those who received support were the Somali Documentary Project, Fuse Factory, Asian Festival and Available Light Theatre.

"We want to be sure we're being a strong voice for the smaller groups in addition to the larger arts groups," said Baughman, who previously served on the boards of the Thurber House and ProMusica Chamber Orchestra. "I'm not sure we can double that every year, but we want to make sure we're being as balanced as we can."

Overall, Baughman said his main goal will be to start talking about how to broaden financial support for the arts. He hopes to find new ways to enlist individuals, corporations and the public sector.

"We need to be sure that we're building the best financial base for the arts organizations in our community," he said. "There are no switches that can be flipped here. But we need to address these issues."