Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

County Awards Cultural Grants

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

County Awards Cultural Grants

Article excerpt

MORE THAN $1.5 MILLION: 3 South County groups are among the 32 selected

Previous concerns about a lack of equity toward South County arts organizations apparently alleviated, Sarasota County commissioners voted quickly and unanimously Tuesday to award more than $1.5 million in Tourist Development Cultural/Arts grants to 32 groups for 2014.

The grants support arts and cultural nonprofits that bring in tourist dollars to the county and applications are tailored to that requirement.

This year the Venice Arts Center, whose application was denied last year due to insufficient evidence of tourist impact, received $30,797. Two other South County organizations also received awards, including Venice Theatre, which was granted $89,309 and the Venice Symphony, which received $7,733.

The North Port Area Art Guild, which received $4,903 in 2013, did not re-apply this year, nor did any new South County organizations.

Commissioner Christine Robinson, who represents the South County, held up the awards vote last year after questioning the efforts of the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County, which administers the grants, to elicit and support applicants from her area.

This year Robinson asked Jim Shirley, director of the Arts and Cultural Alliance, two questions regarding meetings with representatives from the South County before acceding to the vote.

Fern Tavalin, the TDC/A grants management consultant, told commissioners that steps continue to be taken to make sure the grants administration is fair and balanced and to provide equal and adequate outreach and support to all interested organizations.

"Every single year we work to improve the process," said Tavalin, who noted that changes this year included additional outreach efforts and an improved application and review process.

In fact, Tavalin said, the panel tried so hard this year to make things fair to the penny that they came up one dollar short when figuring the exact amounts awarded to each group. Every organization is given a percentage score based on three criteria -- artistic/ cultural purpose, tourist appeal and administrative competence -- and allotted equitable funds according to that score. …

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