The National Endowment for the Arts played Santa Claus last week, dropping federal funding in the stockings of arts organizations, and even went so far as "comin' to town" to do it, announcing $26 million in grants, including $287,000 to 14 local artists and arts organizations, from here in Austin.
Grants in Your Stockings
'Tis the time of year when the National Endowment for the Arts gets to play St. Nick to the nation's arts organizations and drop something nice -- federal funding -- in their stockings. This year, the NEA took its Santa Claus act to a new extreme by literally "comin' to town": NEA Senior Deputy Chairman Eileen B. Mason made the announcement of this year's grants in the categories of creativity, organizational capacity, and leadership initiatives from right here in Austin. Consider it yet more fallout from Richard Florida and his crowning of the "creative class." In her remarks from the podium in the galleries of Mexic-Arte Museum, Mason quoted Florida and his characterization of Austin as "the second most creative city in the U.S." U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Travis, laid the foundation for that theme in his introduction of the distinguished visitor, calling the arts "a critical part of the innovation of our city." (The congressman also proved that where culture is concerned, he won't just talk the talk, he'll walk the walk, plugging his cameo as Mother Ginger in the final performance this year of Ballet Austin's production of The Nutcracker.) Mason noted that while the 107th Congress failed to pass the Department of the Interior bill that contains the NEA's funding, the proposed budget represents an increase over last year. Of the $26 million in grants announced last week, $287,000 is headed our way in grants to a dozen organizations and two individuals, both poets. The fortunate 14:
Texas Folklife Resources: $46,000 to fund 15 week-long artistic residencies in Texas towns with populations under 10,000;
Center for Women & Their Work: $27,000 to support a series of solo exhibitions for young and emerging women artists of Texas;
Austin Lyric Opera: $25,000 to support the January 2003 Austin production of Dead Man Walking, an opera by composer Jake Heggie and librettist Terrence McNally adapted from Sister Helen Prejean's nonfiction book;
Austin Film Society, which received $25,000 to support the presentation of more than 70 curated works of cinema and a separate $10,000 to support post-production costs for Let It Roll, Susanne Mason's documentary recounting the inmate-led revolt against prison conditions in Texas during the 1960s and 1970s;
Cinematexas: $25,000 to support the Eye+Ear Performance Festival -- specifically, appearances by artists who have not previously performed in Austin;
Dance Umbrella: $20,000 to support the presentation of dance events that will include residencies by artists, master classes, meet-the-artist events, lecture demonstrations, and dance workshops;
Tiffany Jill Essbaum and Marlys Mitchell West: $20,000 each for a Creative Writing Fellowship in poetry;
Mexic-Arte Museum: $17,000 to support a series of exhibitions featuring contemporary Latino artists, including two shows by prominent artists and a series of shows by emerging artists;
State Theater Company: $15,000 to support the development and production of The Parker Project, a new musical by Larry Gatlin and company Artistic Director Scott Kanoff, based on the life of Cynthia Parker;
Serie Project: $12,000 to support a serigraph printmaking residency program for artists at all stages in their careers. The apprentices will be trained in printmaking, marketing, promotion, and arts administration;
Ballet Austin: $10,000 to support the creation of three dances set to music by Austin bands and choreographed by Gina Patterson, Dwight Rhoden, and company Artistic Director Stephen Mills;
Puerto Rican Folkloric Dance: $10,000 to support Jibaro music and dance workshops led by Joaquin Caldero and the Guateque Folkloric Ballet of Puerto Rico; and
Texas Book Festival: $10,000 to support readings and panel discussions by prominent authors participating in the 2003 festival.