NEA awards $ 14.5 mil to arts orgs

A New York circus, a New Hampshire artists colony and a women’s philharmonic in San Francisco were among the winners yesterday when the National Endowment for the Arts awarded 60 challenge grants to arts institutions in 22 states.

The grants total $ 14.5 million and range from $ 75,000 to $ 1 million. They are designed to help organizations of all kinds build financial security or launch major programs of potential regional or national importance.

Recipients include an eclectic mix of institutions nationwide, from major museums and schools to theater and dance companies and regional arts organizations.

New York won more challenge grants than any other state — with $ 3,350,000 going to 14 orgs, all in the New York City area. The largest was a $ 565,000 grant to the Brooklyn Academy of Music to launch a major international theater project.

The Big Apple Circus, whose mission is to present the art of the traditional one-ring circus, will use its $ 235,000 grant to set up an endowment and buy equipment like new tents.

The Bay Area Women’s Philharmonic was awarded $ 75,000 to identify emerging female composers, commission and perform premieres of their work, and market their compositions to orchestras around the country.

The 97-year-old MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, N.H., will use its $ 190, 000 to renovate and preserve its historic buildings, and winterize studios so visiting artists can work year-round.

The NEA expects the grants to generate more than $ 45 million in additional arts support, since each dollar awarded requires $ 3 in matching funds over three years.

“Challenge grants are an investment in America’s arts organizations that pays a very high dividend nationwide,” said Ana Steele, NEA acting senior deputy chairwoman.

The largest grant awarded was $ 1 million to the Atlanta Arts Alliance’s Woodruff Arts Center to increase the endowment of its 24-year-old Alliance Theatre. The center says the grant will eliminate a $ 600,000 debt.

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