Arts Commission's 1996-97 Recommendations

As of its meeting last week, the Arts Commission's recommendations put 24.71%, or just over half a million dollars, of the total city arts funding for 1996-97 in the hands of artists of color. Their recommendations appear in the overall city budget broken down by discipline rather than by ethnicity or contract size, making analysis of the minority-equity issue difficult -- but not impossible:

* A little less than $100,000 (4.9% of the total) will go to African-American applicants, with Harold McMillan's DiverseArts Production Group and Boyd Vance's ProArts Collective receiving more than half of the allotment;

* Just under $385,000 (18.98%) will go to Hispanic/Latino applicants -- more than half to the Mexic-Arte Museum, La Pena, Roy Lozano's Ballet Folklorico de Tejas, the Ballet East Dance Theatre, and the Academia de Danza y Folklore Mexicana; and

* About $20,000 (under 1%) goes to Asian and Native-American applicants. Another small fraction has in the past been identified with persons of "other" ethnicities, one of those being Jewish, but the Arts Commission officially equates "minority" with the four above-named cultural groups.

By discipline, the 1996-97 recommendations are as follows:

* Dance: $398,362 (19.66% of total funding) will go to 23 of 25 applicants. Individual contracts range from $1,500, to $61,403 for Ballet Austin. Other recipients of contracts over $25,000 include Sharir Dance Company, Academia de Danza, Austin Contemporary Ballet, Dance Umbrella, Ballet East, Roy Lozano's Ballet Folklorico, and Tapestry Dance Company.

* Literature: $76,958 (3.8%) will go to 11 of 13 applicants. Contracts range from $1,000, to $27,838 for the Austin Writers' League, the only literature applicant to receive more than $25,000.

* Mixed Arts: $514,231 (25.37%) will go to 34 of 35 applicants. Contracts range from $2,000, to $84,655 for Mexic-Arte. Other recipients of contracts over $25,000 include Austin Children's Museum, Center for Women and their Work, Johnson/Long and Co., La Pena, and DiverseArts.

* Music: $391,631 (19.32%) for 40 of 40 applicants. Contracts range from $1,000, to $89,407 for the Austin Symphony. Other contracts over $25,000 include the Austin Federation of Musicians, and the Austin Lyric Opera.

* Theatre: $363,979 (17.96%) will go to 24 of 26 applicants. Contracts range from $1,000, to $50,748 for Zachary Scott Theatre Center. Other contracts over $25,000 include Austin Circle of Theatres, Capitol City Playhouse, Frontera/Hyde Park Theatre, Live Oak Theatre, and the Paramount Theatre.

* Visual Arts: $281,592 (13.89%) will go to 17 of 19 applicants. Contracts range from $2,600, to $160,602 for the Austin Museum of Art, the only visual arts applicant to receive more than $25,000.

There may still be changes to this list, depending on artists' appeals, disqualification and reallocation of funds from groups delinquent on past contracts, and a possible shift of the program's overhead expense back to the city's General Fund, which would free up another $170,000 or so. And then, of course, the city council gets to put in its two cents. -- M.C.M.

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