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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    AZ gives $1.8 million to local arts

    Kyle Hansen
    Kyle Hansen / The Daily Wildcat Cynthia Meier and Jake Sorgen review a grant proposal on Thurs. Aug. 21, 2014 in Tucson, Ariz. The Rogue Theater will send the proposal to the National Endowment for the Arts. The grant proposal is worth $10,000.

    The Arizona Commission on the Arts has dispersed $1,874,910 among 256 grants to various non-profit organizations, schools and arts agencies in Arizona. A little over 70 Tucson-based institutions are recipients of the grant, which was announced this past July.

    The grant is an accumulation of funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Arizona Arts Trust Fund, a private endowment from Arizona ArtShare and from the state’s Rainy Day Fund.

    According to Robert Booker, the executive director of the Arizona Commission on the Arts, this is the second year that the commission has dispersed a grant of this size after having a $20 million public endowment from the Arizona State Treasurer cut from the commission’s budget in 2011. Booker said that the economic recession of 2008 forced the state to start allocating funds away from the arts.

    Thanks to a bipartisan effort led by state Sen. Steve Farley, Booker said that the commission has been able to recover an additional $1 million in grant money for the arts. Sen. Farley himself is no stranger to making art, as he is the photographer responsible for creating the historic murals seen on the Broadway Underpass.

    Booker added that the grant will be split into various amounts based on information supplied through an organization’s application. Grant awards range on average from $2,000 to $40,000 in size. Booker said that these grants are meant to initiate a community’s investment in the arts.

    “These are the most valuable dollars in a nonprofit organization,” Booker said.

    The Rogue Theatre on University Boulevard is dependent on this type of grant money in order to maintain its operating budget of $400,000 every season, according to Cynthia Meier, the managing director of The Rogue Theatre. This year, the theater is receiving $9,000 of the commission’s grant to go toward its general fund.
    “We’re definitely meeting a need in the community,” Meier said. When applying for the commission’s grant, Meier said that she had to explain in great detail how her theater engages with the 7,500 patrons who visit The Rogue Theatre each season.

    “We have tried to foster relationships with young students who may not otherwise be exposed to this kind of theater,” Meier said in response to the commission’s question of how The Rogue Theatre has employed new outreach strategies.

    Community investment is one of four categories that the commission uses to determine how much an applicant should receive. The commission also takes into consideration an organization’s fiscal ingenuity, stewardship of public funds and the overall quality of the art it’s creating.

    All applications are reviewed by a panel of six to eight individuals with artistic ties to various Arizona regions, according to Booker. This panel scores each applicant in the four categories and then ranks them based on a percentage out of 100, Booker added.

    The Loft Cinema on Speedway Boulevard likely scored fairly well in this assessment, as it is one of a few Tucson-based organizations receiving at least $40,000.

    “We’re making the community a more culturally interesting place,” said Peggy Johnson, the executive director of The Loft Cinema. This is the biggest grant The Loft Cinema has yet to receive, according to Johnson.

    As with The Rogue Theatre, Johnson said that this grant money will go toward her organization’s general operating budget. The Loft Cinema works to host over 500 film events each year, and Johnson added that it partners with over 100 other local nonprofits in the community.

    According to Johnson, The Loft Cinema is the only cinema in Arizona to receive grant money from the commission.

    Follow Kevin Reagan @KevinReaganUA

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