Org sees need as contributions suffer in economy

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In the face of economic recession, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. is seeing some rare prosperity, and it’s not afraid to share.

“We’re in the fortunate position that we’re still in the midst of a long-term network deal … so we were not affected by the downturn,” says Philip Berk, president of the HFPA.

As a result, the association will be awarding more than $1.5 million in grants supporting arts orgs, better than $250,000 more than last year, and the group’s highest grant total in recent history. “We’ve increased the amount based on the idea that the need is even greater,” Berk adds.

The funds go to support higher education fellowships, professional training, film preservation efforts and special projects like the Lollipop Theater Network’s Celebrity Hospital Visits, which brings movie screenings and stars to hospitalized children who can’t otherwise go to theaters.

“They really support the preservation of film, and not just the films that are widely known,” says Margaret Bodde, exec director of Martin Scorsese’s the Film Foundation, which is this year’s largest beneficiary. Thanks to the HFPA’s grant, the foundation will be able to restore prints of 1933’s “King Kong,” 1950’s “Breaking Point,” 1963’s “America, America” and several silent Alfred Hitchcock films.

Grant recipients are selected from among applicants to HFPA’s website based on orgs’ projected goals and their consistency in satisfying previous years’ goals.

“They are required to have full accountability of how that money is spent,” Berk says. “Unless they’ve satisfied last year’s grant, they can’t apply this year.”

In the coming year, that money will be spent on the development of an online LGBT film gallery by Outfest, the reactivation of underused historic L.A. theaters by the Los Angeles Conservancy and the funding of screening tie-ins for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s upcoming Tim Burton exhibit, to name a few examples.

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