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The Threat to NEA Funding and Austin
How would the proposed cuts to the National Endowment for the Arts hit Austin? Hard.
Arts Story  April 27, 2017, by Katarina Brown
"...A call by President Trump to eliminate the NEA from the federal budget has reopened the controversy around the worth of the arts agency. While Trump does not have final say on the budget, his very proposal for such a cut indicates a shift in the way arts funding is perceived, and, as with so many other issues now on the national stage, his position is being echoed in surprising numbers..."

On the Funding Front
The governor puts a hit out on the Texas Commission on the Arts
Arts Story  February 18, 2011, by Robert Faires
"...Here we go again. Money gets tight on the government side, and the call goes out: Cut public funding for the arts! Seriously? That card was tired three recessions back..."

A Night at The Opera: Artists Sing Out at Arts Commision
Arts Story  June 17, 1999
"...Like most everyone else at the Dougherty Arts Center (DAC) on Monday, June 7, I am ready to croon to the Austin Arts Commission that, despite the dedicated work of the Advisory Panel in my discipline, my arts organization wasn't appreciatedquite enough and therefore deserves more money. "Please increase my funding" is the chorus this evening as artists sing for their suppers, their marketing budgets, their administrative personnel budgets, their materials budgets..."

A Day at The Races.... One Hour at the Mixed Arts Panel Review Session
Arts Story  May 27, 1999
"...McMillan is a veteran of city funding. Besides volunteering for the Mixed Arts Panel for four years and chairing it for three, he has been empaneled for the Texas Commission on the Arts and has sat on arts panels in other cities..."

Who Will Be the Arts Tsar?
The two finalists for the job of cultural arts program manager addressed the public Oct. 23.
Arts Story  October 31, 2003, by Robert Faires
"...Robb Hankins and Vincent Kinch are the last candidates standing for the position known in cityspeak as cultural arts program manager. What that translates into is presiding over a $3 million operating budget and capital resources for public art, overseeing implementation of the city's revised cultural funding program, and nurturing and assisting local artists and arts organizations in development and marketing, as well as beating the drum for the arts throughout the private and public sectors -- in short, setting the tone for the way all cultural activity is viewed in Austin...."

Cultural Arts Program
Tracking the recent history and redevelopment of Austin's Cultural Arts Program
Arts Story  April 16, 2004
"...April 2001: Cultural Contracts Program staff uses a new program guideline to declare Sharir+Bustamante Danceworks ineligible to receive city funding, launching a four-month controversy...."

Arts Consultants: Connect the Cultural Dots
The city's consultants recommend a new, one-stop shop and more funding for Austin's arts programs.
News Story  December 20, 2002, by Mike Clark-Madison
"...In the cover letter to her team's final report, arts consultant Lucille Dabney notes that "the timing of this endeavor coincided with an important initiative of City Council related to economic development." That timing was largely accidental, but what a difference a year makes. What began as an effort to clean up the city's contentious arts-funding program has turned into a key plank of Austin's bring-business-back strategy..."

Public Notice: 'Tis the Season
Parties nightly, and events in pairs
News Column  December 3, 2015, by Nick Barbaro
"...Two city arts funding programs, the Cultural Heritage Festivals Program and Capacity Building Funding Program, provide funding for nonprofit arts organizations and individual artists. The deadline to apply for FY 2016 grants is Dec..."

Public Notice: Bridges to Forever
The theme for the coming week is public input
News Column  June 18, 2015, by Nick Barbaro
"...Cultural Arts Program Manager Interviews: The city of Austin's Cultural Arts Division, a division of the Economic Development Department, oversees the funding process for artists and arts organizations, public arts programs, and programs to assist the electronic, film, and interactive industries, and creative sectors. There's a public meeting Wednesday, June 24, to meet candidates for this position – Cohn Drennan (Dal­las), Anna L..."

The Austin Arts Hall of Fame Class of 2016
These inductees – Ballet Austin's Cookie Ruiz and Stephen Mills, and the Austin Symphony Orchestra's Peter Bay – are cultural heroes who lead by example
Arts Story  May 5, 2016, by Robert Faires
"...Like the hero of The Grapes of Wrath, who vows to be present wherever people are in need or in a fight, Ruiz is that presence the city's creatives can count on wherever there's a battle on their behalf. Wherever there's a struggle over arts funding, she'll be there..."

Austin Arts Get Going in 1995 Forward Motion
Arts Story  January 5, 1996
"...In arts circles, 1995 may be best remembered as the year Congress gutted the National Endowment for the Arts and left a littered landscape of angry debate over public funding and freedom of expression; a year of intolerance and rhetoric on the political front and a year of decreased funding from foundations and individuals on the private side...."

Public Notice: Strange Bedfellows
Does ridesharing work for Austin?
News Column  March 31, 2016, by Nick Barbaro
"...The City's Cultural Arts Division is now taking applications online from nonprofit arts organizations and individual artists for cultural funding through several programs. See for details...."

Public Notice: In Defense of Pedophilia
CM Don Zimmerman embarks on a new crusade
News Column  July 2, 2015, by Nick Barbaro
"...Applications are now open for the FY 2016 Cultural Heritage Festivals and Community Initiatives funding programs, which provide funding to local 501C nonprofits – to produce either a cultural festival, or a public "performance or exhibition," open to both residents and tourists. All interested applicants are encouraged to attend one of the workshops scheduled in July..."

Public Notice: Bikes, Toll Roads, TNCs
A miscellany of mostly transportation
News Column  April 30, 2015, by Nick Barbaro
"...The City's Cultural Arts Division is taking applications for its Cultural Expansion program, which funds nonprofit arts organizations which provide programs and services primarily for minority and underserved segments of the community. Deadline is June 1; see for guidelines..."

Public Notice: Old News on CodeNEXT
Scattershots, while waiting for Draft Three
News Column  January 25, 2018, by Nick Barbaro
"...Unfortunately, the resolution itself got sort of lost in the coverage of the code opposition, but it's worth noting that much of what they ask for could be done, in parallel, and with or without, CodeNEXT implementation. Summed up, they propose creation of a Low-Income Housing Trust Fund, with dedicated city funding and a broader, more community-based management board than the city's current density bonus program enjoys, plus a policy that all future bond packages include at least 20% that's earmarked for low-income housing...."

The Arts District Dance
Council's vote this week on funds for streetscapes for Ballet Austin is a little bit about depleting the city's annual Great Streets fund and a lot about the creation of a performing arts district Downtown
News Story  December 15, 2006, by Kimberly Reeves
"...The funding process for the Ballet Austin project, however, has not been without its hiccups. Ballet Austin is not exactly a Great Streets project..."

Public Notice
Columns  August 30, 1996, by Kate X Messer
"...Be prepared to pass a background check and attend a meeting, Thu, Sep 5. 472-7627. We DARE Ya, PAL Members of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) are not too happy about the City of Austin's proposed cutting of all funding to the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) and Police Activities League (PAL). They would like to call a public forum on the matter and to invite parents and students who feel the same way to get involved..."

TFAA Director Sandra Greagor Igniting a Fire for the Arts
Arts Story  July 28, 1995
"...Because of their statewide emphasis, TFAA raises funds outside the city of Austin as well as locally, and has board representation from across the state. A truly unique funding source of money for TFAA has been its "Collector's Circle," a program that developed when Mark L..."

Public Notice: Does Business Really Hate Education?
It's way past time for some new voices on education policy
News Column  October 9, 2014, by Nick Barbaro
"...20 early voting. There's a lot more about Council on the following pages – and we're already hard at work on our endorsements, which will appear in next week's issue – but it's worth a reminder that there is yet more on the local ballot that needs your attention: five contested Austin ISD school board races (four districts, one at-large), plus, regarding Austin Community College, two board seats and about a half-billion dollars in funding proposals (yes, that's a "B")..."

Lone Star Arts Convergence
Artists converge on Austin for TCA's Texas Arts Exchange Conference
Arts Story  July 30, 2004, by Robert Faires
"...Artists and arts administrators from El Paso to Texarkana, Abilene to Brownsville, and all points between are converging on our town to confer on matters artistic at the Texas Arts Exchange Conference, sponsored by the Texas Commission on the Arts. Thursday through Saturday, they'll be huddled at the Omni Hotel mulling over issues such as arts education, cultural tourism, funding for the arts, and arts advocacy programs..."

Arts and History: The Way the Culture Crumbles
Cuts run deep for arts, historic preservation, and libraries
News Story  March 4, 2011, by Richard Whittaker
"...So there was little shock when Gov. Rick Perry proposed suspending all funding for the Texas Historical Commission and the Commission on the Arts for the next two years..."

Arts Awards
Area visual artists win support for 2012 projects
Arts Story  December 16, 2011, by Robert Faires
"...Four area visual-arts projects have just won grants from the Idea Fund, a program in which Houston arts organizations Aurora Picture Show, DiverseWorks Art Space, and Project Row Houses reallocate funding from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts to Texas artists and art groups. Panelists Kate Hackman (co-director of Charlotte Street Foundation, Kansas City, Mo.), J..."

ACCESS News Trying to Fill Funding Void
Program for deaf and hard-of-hearing may not have third season
News Story  May 17, 2013, by Jordan Smith
"...Nonetheless, its future is now in the balance as grant funding has run out, the pair is on the hunt for more, and when – or whether – season three of the KLRU program will ever air remains unclear. "So much good comes out of that show" and would be a loss if it didn't continue, said Acevedo, a two-time guest on the program...."

Protests City's Funding 'Mikado'
Postmarks  June 20, 2011
"...Dear Editor, As members of the faculty of the UT Center for Asian American Studies, we are writing to protest the city of Austin’s funding of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado, which features performers in “yellow face.” Despite the operetta’s long history and comedic traits, it offers a mocking and offensive portrayal of Japanese society and culture. It is comparable to a municipally supported performance featuring “blackface,” which also uses the guise of humor to mask insulting and degrading representations..."

Pulling From TEA Report, Ratliff Argues Public Schools Better Than Charters
Ratliff gets rebuke from federal education heads for saying public schools outperform charters
News Story  July 23, 2015, by Richard Whittaker
"...For context, the highly touted new Excellent Educators for All initiative, a tent-pole part of the administration's agenda which Duncan represented as "critically important", will only receive $350 million. Similarly, Obama is only asking for $25 million for arts in education funding – the same as it received in 2014...."

Public Notice: CodeNEXT Version 1.1?
News Column  May 11, 2017, by Nick Barbaro
"...• Affordability: City staff and consultants held the Affordability Code Talk Monday with a lot of aspirations, but no firm idea of what the code will say about affordable housing incentives, because that part of the code isn't written yet. The next day, staff briefed Council on a broad outline of the plan: It would expand the areas where density bonuses are available (essentially, where developers can buy additional density by funding affordable housing), and it would open commercial properties to the incentives, as well..."

On the Funding Front
New funding helps the Blanton get wired and kids at Zach and KHDC get inspired
Arts Story  February 24, 2006, by Robert Faires

The Texas Monkey Project
The Texas Monkey Project: 2005 Art Show and Sale runs Saturday, July 23 through Saturday, Aug. 20, at Progress Coffee. All proceeds benefit the Primarily Primates sanctuary
Arts Review  July 22, 2005, by Cindy Widner
"...Recently, Swett allowed Austin filmmaker Andy Cockrum, who has his own long-standing interest in primates, to film at the sanctuary (which is not open to the public) for Cockrum's American Chimp documentary. Knowing Swett and his compound are always in need of funding, Cockrum decided to repay him by instigating an art show and sale on the sanctuary's behalf..."

Public Notice
Get Out, Get Proud, Get Down
Columns  June 5, 1998, by Kate X Messer
"...Together they have created the Shaw-Cotera Juvenile Violence Consortium, a group of researchers brought together to study and prevent juvenile crime. If you are interested in assisting with funding, write to the address below; all other inquiries should be directed to the phone number listed after the address..."

Public Funds Part of PromiseLand's Plan for Praise
The conservative Christian church seeks a federal loan for an amphitheatre at its 51st St. campus
News Story  August 1, 2003, by Lauri Apple
"...Final approval of Heart at Home's CDBG loan application would occur when the city finalizes its budget in September; prior to that, the city must submit its federal-funding "action plan" to the U.S. Dept..."

Public Notice: Ted Gordon Believes
Is it too late to fix the AISD bond package?
News Column  June 22, 2017, by Nick Barbaro
"...There's still fat to be found elsewhere in the budget: Trustees could take $30 million off of the Ann Richards appropriation without even touching their new tennis courts, and another $13.3M if they just follow the original FABPAC recommendation. That's almost enough to fund the entire Mueller school right there, but it's hardly the only example of where the funding priorities – as difficult as these decisions are – have diverged from the "worst-er, first-er" path the administration claims to follow...."

Public Notice: Inconvenient Details
Council aims for the stars, stuck in the dirt
News Column  August 11, 2016, by Nick Barbaro
"...Even as the city is still mired in talks about funding a new Austin/Travis County Sobriety Center (see "Homestead Exemption Puts Sobriety Center at Risk," July 22), the Travis County Commissioners Court has already put out a call for qualified applicants to sit on its board of directors, which will organize, plan, hire the executive director, and supervise the sobriety center – designed to offer support services instead of jail for some offenders, and reduce costs associated with jail bookings, EMS runs, and emergency room visits. To apply, visit; the deadline is Thursday, Aug..."

Arts Board Love Stories
That special thing that happens between artists and boards of directors can be a lot like a love relationship: Intimate. Fulfilling. Long-term. Working as one body. However, it can be and often is complicated.
Arts Story  November 3, 2000, by C. Denby Swanson
"..."I think that when we started out, we had a lot of playwrights on the board and that didn't look so good to funding agencies," she determines. Ironically, she's a working playwright herself..."

Paint By Numbers
Racial Divides in Austin's Public Arts Funding
News Story  June 28, 1996, by Mike Clark-Madison
"...But there is one variable that complicates the city's attempts to create a slickly functioning arts-funding machine, and that is race. The amount of money that goes to applicants of color, and particularly to African-Americans, does not match up with their presence in the community at large..."

A Better Tomorrow
For years, the city of Austin's arts funding process has been mired in perpetual gloom, but with the city reviewing its Cultural Contracts Program, artists and arts companies talking with each other about collaborations and a shared vision of what the arts mean to Austin, there are glimmers of light on the city's arts funding horizon.
Arts Story  October 11, 2002, by Robert Faires
"...For years, the city of Austin's arts funding process has been mired in perpetual gloom. The instrument by which our community is supposed to foster creativity among its citizens has instead bred discontent and antagonism among the very people it was intended to help..."

It's a Dirty Job ...
New arts tsar Vincent Kitch rolls up his sleeves to give Austin arts funding a clean start
Arts Story  April 16, 2004, by Robert Faires
"...Vincent Kitch, Austin's first official arts tsar, is tackling a task almost as mythic in proportion – overhauling the city's arts funding program, which is encrusted with at least two decades of conflicts and controversies – but the muck he's dealing with is considerably harder to scour away, so much of it being that intangible emotional kind: the discontent, antagonism, and ill will among the artists, staff, commissioners, panelists, and others who have taken part in the process through the years. Even though he has only the strength of a mortal, Kitch has undertaken the cleaning up of the Cultural Contracts Program, spending the past five months – his first five on the job – developing a different, less contentious, more supportive way for the city to fund artists...."

Culture Cash
Austin's artists and arts groups are working hard to survive the economic downturn, and now more than ever it's essential for the city that they do.
Arts Story  February 7, 2003, by Robert Faires
"...Taking the Hit The arts in Austin have been drubbed, thumped, and pummeled this past year. In addition to the economic shellacking that every American suffered, every artist and arts organization that made it through the city's cultural contracts process in 2002 was sucker punched with a 31% cut in funding from the previous fiscal year..."

The Forest for the Trees
The Austin Arts Commission has never been a model of bureaucratic efficiency, but this year it seems to have become a big cliché in action, a body so focused on procedure and minutiae and the concerns of the moment that it can't see the forest for the trees. It's compounding the problems in Austin's profoundly flawed public arts funding system and demonstrating just how poorly that process serves not only the city's artists but all its citizens.
Arts Story  July 6, 2001, by Robert Faires
"...So it was when the Austin Arts Commission convened on Tuesday, May 30. The purpose of the meeting was simple: Deciding what to do about a new guideline in the city arts funding application that had inadvertently led Sharir + Bustamante Danceworks to be declared ineligible for a cultural contract..."

Change in the Weather
A different kind of summer for the city arts funding process
Arts Story  September 3, 2004, by Robert Faires
"...Summer in Austin traditionally means a painfully long run of broiling, 100-degree days and a similarly protracted string of blistering attacks on the city's Cultural Contracts program. In years past, the panels evaluating applicants for city arts funding and the moneys allocated to those applicants by the Austin Arts Commission have sparked howls of criticism, accusations of unfairness, and charges of conflict of interest that could be heard from June through the city budget deliberations of September...."

A Bad Year Gets Worse
The Austin Arts Commission has found itself stewing in a bubbling gumbo of controversies this year, and lately that gumbo has been getting hotter and hotter, with resignations from the Commission, an investigation by the Texas Commission on the Arts, and a call for reforms by a City Council member.
Arts Story  August 24, 2001, by Robert Faires
"...While you're never likely to hear anyone on the Austin Arts Commission warbling "It Was a Very Good Year" -- the inevitable drama and trauma of public-arts funding, along with the commission's checkered history in that field, ensure that every span of its calendar is colored by disputation, if not outright rancor -- 2001 has been so not a very good year for the Arts Commission that its members might be more inclined to memorialize the year in song with that old Hee Haw chestnut: "Gloom, Despair, and Agony on Me."..."

Naked City
The city takes feedback on its proposed improved cultural contracts system.
News Story  October 10, 2003, by Mike Clark-Madison
"...With about $3 million in hotel bed tax to spend each year to support the arts, the city has routinely wandered into a minefield of conflict -- between new and established artists, between artistic disciplines, and between small and large arts organizations. The ostensibly hygienic and elaborate process for allocating the city Cultural Arts Fund -- involving discipline-specific peer-review panels and the city-appointed Arts Commission as well as the City Council -- was intended to insulate arts funding from politics and conflicts of interest, but has had precisely the opposite effect...."

Feedback of a Different Kind
At last week's arts funding forum, artists gave city officials an earful – but not what they expected
Arts Story  March 12, 2004, by Robert Faires
"...What was the most common phrase directed at city officials during last week's Cultural Funding Program public forum?..."

Bending the Rules
Getting arts funding from the City of Austin is a long, complicated game, and Austin Chronicle writers Robi Polgar, John Walch, and Mary Jane Garza have been following some of the players around the game board this year. In the final part of their four-part series, they critique the city arts funding process.
Arts Story  September 3, 1999, by Mary Jane Garza, Robi Polgar and John Walch
"...It's unpredictable moments like these that keep hope alive and keep players from flipping over the game board in utter frustration. As the City of Austin arts funding system -- formally known as the Cultural Contracts Program -- enters its ninth and final month for this year, its resemblance to a long-running game of Monopoly is most apparent..."

Community Chest and Chance Rolled Into One
The Applicants
Arts Story  May 27, 1999
"...Lisa Fehrman photograph by Bret Brookshire A handful of artists applying for funding are being monitored as they make their way around the city funding game board. Regarding this second phase, applicants were asked about how they prepared for the review sessions and what criteria they believe they are being judged on...."

Public arts funding doesn't get much messier than the City of Austin's Cultural Contracts Program, but this year's process may go down in history as the messiest yet.
Arts Column  September 13, 2002, by Robert Faires
"...Arts Funding Turmoil..."

Canis Interruptus
The Applicants
Arts Story  June 17, 1999
"...Without sufficient funding, Odeluga's whole project will have to change scale. Originally, Odeluga had wanted her video about health issues relating to lesbians of color to be an hour long..."

Related Reading
Arts Story  July 6, 2001, by Robert Faires
"..."Paint by Numbers: Racial Divides in Austin's Public Arts Funding," by Mike Clark-Madison, June 28, 1996"

What We Learned
What is the state of the arts in America and where does Austin fit in the mix?
Arts Story  June 24, 2005, by Robert Faires
"...The annual gathering of the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (June 10-11, organized by Austin Script Works' C. Denby Swanson and Zachary Scott Theatre Center's Ann Ciccolella) and the 2005 meeting of the national advocacy group Americans for the Arts (June 8-13, sponsored by the Texas Commission on the Arts) saw culture mavens from coast to coast talking about the place of the arts in American society, new methods of creative collaboration, public and private arts funding, the role of the artist as citizen, and much more, even as they downed mojitos at Habana and boot-scooted at the Broken Spoke..."

Cultural Affairs Division
Vincent Kitch off to head the Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs in Seattle
Arts Story  March 11, 2011, by Robert Faires
"...On Tuesday, Vincent Kitch winds up seven years of working for the city of Austin on arts and cultural issues and heads to Seattle to serve as director of the Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs in the mayor's office there. Kitch spent most of his time here as cultural arts program manager, arriving in fall 2003 with a huge first assignment: overhauling the city's arts funding program, which had been dogged by controversies and conflicts for more than 20 years..."

A trip to Minnesota, where the state Legislature recently approved major support for two theatre construction projects, inspires a new way of looking at arts funding in Texas.
Arts Column  June 20, 2003, by Robert Faires
"...According to various press reports in the Minnesota Star Tribune and on Minnesota Public Radio, this public support did not come easily, and arts groups had to combat the standard arguments against funding the arts while social services are suffering. (If there's one political face-off that gets more play than "guns vs..."

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