Magazine article Insight on the News

NEA Spreads Wealth, but New York Gets the Most

Magazine article Insight on the News

NEA Spreads Wealth, but New York Gets the Most

Article excerpt

The National Endowment fop the Arts has released $80 million in funding, with Empire State nonprofit organizations receiving a lion's shape -- 204 federal grants totaling $25 million.

After learning that one-third of all congressional districts receive no funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, or NEA, Congress placed a 15 percent cap on awards to independent arts organizations in any one state. Only organizations that could prove their programs had "national impact" were exempt.

As a result, according to the NEA, this year's grants, announced in late April, are more evenly divided. More than half of the grants -- $34 million of $60 million -- will be distributed among arts agencies across the nation. But $25 million still will go to nonprofit arts groups in one state. Of the NEA's 768 grants in this category, 204 (26 percent) are slated for applicants based in New York. Sixty-six of the New York grants are said to have "national impact."

The NEA's largest grant to a nonprofit organization is $500,000 to the New England Foundation for the Arts. The grant funds the National Dance Project, which supports individual companies staging ballet, jazz, tap and hip-hop productions.

"This is an expression of the NEA's confidence and delight in what we've done in the first two years of our program," says director Rebecca Blunk, referring to the $1 million the NEA gave the project in 1996. In its first year, the project gave away $420,000 to 17 companies that performed 117 different engagements in 32 states. This year, it has given $400,000 to 14 companies that have performed 120 events in 33 states.

The NEA is continuing funding for Brava for Women in the Arts, a controversial San Francisco theater, despite objections from the House Education subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, headed by Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan. The theater has underwritten Afro Pomo Homos, a gay theater group for black men, and Drama Divas, an after-school theater program for homosexual youth. Brava's 1998 grant was for $21,150, down from $75,000 last year.

Other grants include $100,000 to the North Shore Community Arts Foundation in Beverly, Mass., for a 30th anniversary production of the musical Hair; and a $20,000 grant to Coterie Theatre of Kansas City, Mo. …

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