Culture Flash!

City arts funding revisions get a thumbs-up from council, theatre artists sing for cancer charities, and local playwrights meet and greet

• Score a big win for the Guidelines Committee and the Austin Arts Commission in the column for reforming the city's Cultural Arts Funding programs. The committee, which has been meeting for almost a year to smooth the rough edges off the new arts funding process launched in 2004, had its proposed revisions to that process adopted by the City Council on Thursday, Aug. 18. The significance lies in the fact that in addition to cosmetic changes (e.g., renaming the Institutional Support category "Organizational Support," renaming Community Initiatives "Project Support II") and refinements regarding funding allocation amounts (e.g., raising the cap for Organizational Support from $100K to $500K, lowering the maximum request by individual artists from $25,000 to $15,000), the revisions contained major changes to the program. These changes including development of a funding matrix for the distribution of cultural contracts cash based on applicant organization size and panel score, creation of a Capacity Building Program specifically for culturally based or ethnically specific arts organizations, and moving to a two-year cycle for applications, with formal reviews every other year. Credit goes to a stalwart band of artists from the community, led by Salvage Vanguard Theater Artistic Director (and Arts Commission member) Jason Neulander, city staffers, and council members, most notably Raul Alvarez, who kept meeting and talking week in and week out for months. The vote was 6-0 in favor of the revisions. Arts funding for the upcoming fiscal year was not discussed. That will be adopted with the budget in September.

• This weekend, local theatre artists are singing for a good cause: cancer research and treatment. The second annual Cabaret for Life features familiar and not-so-familiar songs performed by Jill and Tim Blackwood, Sarah Collins, Jacqui Cross, Amy Downing, Greg Holt, Brian Jenson, Stuart Moulton, Michael McKelvey, Ann Richards-McKelvey, Cathie Sheridan, Dan Sullivan, accompanist Tom Mitchell, and yours truly, attempting to channel the Chairman of the Board. Take your pick from Friday, Aug. 26, 7pm; a dinner performance Saturday, 6pm; a Night Owl Cabaret (for mature audiences), Saturday, 10:30pm; or a twilight set, Sunday, 5pm, at the Mary Moody Northen Theatre, St. Edward's University, 3001 S. Congress. All proceeds benefit the Lance Armstrong Foundation, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, and other local cancer charities. For more information, call 296-3494 or e-mail

• Get the lowdown on what's happening with the hottest dramatists in town at the Meet & Greet with Austin Script Works. The playwright-driven service organization will celebrate the end of summer and the beginning of its 2005-2006 season on Saturday, Aug. 27, 3-5pm, in the back garden of Scholz Garten, 1607 San Jacinto. You can have a chat with your favorite local writer or even get started down the road to becoming a favorite local writer yourself. The public is welcome, and admission is free. (Though you're on your own if you call for a round for all those thirsty playwrights.) For more information, call 454-9727 or e-mail

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Guidelines Committee, Austin Arts Commission, city arts funding, City Council, Salvage Vanguard Theater, Jason Neulander, Raul Alvarez, Jill Blackwood, Tim Blackwood, Sarah Collins, Jacqui Cross, Amy Downing, Greg Holt, Brian Jenson, Stuart Moulton, Michael McKelvey, Ann Richards-McKelvey, Cathie Sheridan, Dan Sullivan, Tom Mitchell

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