Feds hand millions in grants to states for arts, music

Maria Recio

The National Endowment for the Arts announced more than $45 million in grants to state and regional arts agencies Wednesday, with funding for all states and an emphasis on arts outreach through schools, libraries and online in programs from Alaska to South Carolina and Texas.

The grants come at a time when arts budgets are especially tight and reflect the government-wide budget cuts that are in place through the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30. Although the government agency cut has been 5 percent, the NEA grants are down only 2.7 percent from last year because of reprogramming of funds. The grants are made this year for the states and regions to spend in fiscal 2014.

“The NEA’s partnership with the state arts agencies and regional arts organizations is vital to the agency’s work,” said Joan Shigekawa, the NEA’s acting chairman. “Not only do these partners extend the reach of NEA funds to communities across the country, but they are also key collaborators in NEA programs and outreach efforts.”

Forty percent of the agency’s grants go the state and regional arts organizations. State agencies received $37,263,715 in NEA grants, and regional organizations were allotted $7.8 million. The regional arts funding includes a Mid-America Arts Alliance traveling exhibition in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas, as well as a South Arts tour of independent filmmakers to Southern states including Florida, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Texas, which will receive $920,000, was recognized by the NEA in a release for its Rural Initiative, which brings the arts to remote parts of the state.

“We have artists on our touring roster that go to libraries,” said Gary Gibbs, executive director of Texas Commission on the Arts. “We’re working to bring the arts to small communities in summer reading programs by bringing storytellers and musicians.”

The Alaska State Council of the Arts uses NEA funding for arts education from kindergarten through 12th grade with its Artists in Schools programs, which in 2012 supported 90 artists. The state was allocated $631,400 in this round of NEA grants.

“The arts can transform the classroom environment, making learning a lively, invigorating experience,” says the council’s website.

The South Carolina Arts Commission, awarded $738,400, sponsors an online resource, “The Hub,” which the NEA described as a “one-stop shop for the arts” for information on the arts for everyone from artists to art groups to residents and tourists.

North Carolina, with an aggressive arts program, won $883,400 from the NEA, Missouri, $665,500 and California, $1.02 million.

By Maria Recio
McClatchy Washington Bureau