Category: NEA

NEA appoints L.A.'s Ayanna Hudson as arts education director

April 12, 2012 |  4:37 pm

  Ayanna Hudson
The National Endowment for the Arts has named a new director for arts education, choosing an experienced cultural advocate from Los Angeles. Ayanna Hudson will assume the new position starting in July, the NEA said Thursday. Hudson comes from the L.A. County Arts Commission, where she led Arts for All, an initiative to return arts to schools' core curricula.

Hudson will manage all stages of the grantmaking process for the organization's arts education program, the NEA said. The program benefits students and teachers through grants intended to go toward training and development of the arts.

Hudson has worked as arts eduction director at the L.A. County Arts Commission since 2001. Her previous experience includes the School Arts Program at the Fulton County Department of Arts and Culture in Atlanta.

Hudson will replace Sarah Cunningham, who left the NEA in July. In a statement, Hudson said she has a profound belief in the mission of NEA, and is looking "forward to spearheading strategic efforts to impact the lives of millions of youth through the arts."

The L.A. County Arts Commission said it is planning a national search to find a replacement for Hudson.


'Hunger Games' ' Stanley Tucci to go to bat for arts funding

NEA-style community-building via arts has lost ground in state

Obama's 2013 budget calls for 5% increase for arts and culture

-- David Ng

Photo: Ayanna Hudson. Credit: Gregory Gilmer / L.A. County Arts Commission

'Hunger Games' ' Stanley Tucci to go to bat for arts funding

March 20, 2012 |  3:17 pm

Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) and Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) in
Does star power matter on Capitol Hill?

Well, here’s something to ponder: Last April 5,  Alec Baldwin and Kevin Spacey were scheduled to address a House appropriations hearing as part of the annual Arts Advocacy Day organized by Americans for the Arts, which spearheads the arts-lobbying effort in Washington.

Their appearance got canceled, and congressional ears missed the two actors’ pitches for averting the 12.6% budget cut that President Obama was then proposing for the National Endowment for the Arts.

Three days later, congressional leaders struck a temporary budget deal that reduced NEA funding by 7.5%. Then, when Congress got around to passing the 2011-12 federal budget, it deepened the cut to 12.7%. The NEA was left with $146.2 million to spend, down from the $167.5 it had commanded when the year began.

It’s debatable whether star-powered oratory really would have helped --  2011, you’ll recall, was a year in which Washington was consumed by a near-impasse over how much to cut the federal deficit, prompting fears that the government might shut down entirely.

Now it’s time to deliberate on a budget for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, and Americans for the Arts is again bringing star power to bear, in hopes of securing a modest recovery for the nation's arts grantmaking agency. On Thursday, actor Stanley Tucci (pictured in "Hunger Games" with its star, Jennifer Lawrence) and Americans for the Arts President Robert Lynch are scheduled to address the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior. The goal, says Americans for the Arts, is to raise the NEA’s budget to $155 million -- a 6% increase that would be slightly more than the $154.3 million that Obama recently proposed.

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NEA-style community-building via arts has lost ground in state

February 24, 2012 |  3:30 pm

Rocco Landesman, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, came to Watts and neighboring Willowbrook on Thursday for walking tours and briefings on how $720,000 in grants funded or coordinated by the NEA is being spent. 

The money was generated by Our Town and ArtPlace, two programs begun under Landesman that aim to use the arts as a tool for neighborhood improvement and fostering economic growth.

But a major new California state policy works at cross-purposes to what Landesman is trying to accomplish on a federal level. From the late 1960s on, municipal redevelopment agencies in the state often funded arts and cultural projects on the same theory that guides Our Town and ArtPlace -- that in addition to their aesthetic and educational value, arts attractions foster tourism, an engaged and active citizenry, and economic growth.

Those efforts ended on Feb. 1, when California's redevelopment agencies, which were created to fight urban blight and promote economic activity, ceased to exist. Driven by the budget crises lingering over Sacramento and municipalities, and questioning the efficacy of redevelopment spending, Gov. Jerry Brown and the state Legislature abolished the agencies so that billions of dollars in property taxes they'd controlled could be diverted to other government purposes.

More than $350 million in arts projects have been funded by redevelopment agencies in Los Angeles County over the past 45 years, including construction of the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Grand Avenue headquarters ($23 million) and the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts ($60 million).

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Obama's 2013 budget calls for 5% increase for arts and culture

February 14, 2012 |  6:27 am

President Obama’s proposed 2013 budget, released Monday, calls for a 5% increase in spending for three cultural grantmaking agencies and three Washington, D.C., arts institutions.

Obama aims to boost outlays from $1.501 billion to $1.576 billion, encompassing the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities (NEA and NEH), the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the Smithsonian Institution, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the National Gallery of Art.

The arts and humanities endowments each would get a 5.5% boost, to $154.255 million -- nearly restoring cuts announced in December. But if Congress approves the president’s proposal for the fiscal year that begins in October 2012, the NEA and NEH will still be well short of the $167.5 million each was set to receive before two separate rounds of cuts instigated by Congressional Republicans during 2011.

Obama is proposing $231.9 million for IMLS, a $439,000 reduction.

The Smithsonian Institution, by far the heavy hitter of federal cultural spending, would receive $856.8 million -- a 3.7% hike for its operating budget, which would rise to $660.3 million, and a 12.3% increase in capital expenditures, to $196.5 million. The biggest capital expense would be $85 million, to continue construction on the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

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New budget plan cuts NEA and NEH 5.6% but boosts Smithsonian

December 19, 2011 |  9:06 am

The budget passed Friday by the House of Representatives cuts arts grant agencies by 5.6%
The National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities each will see a 5.6% budget reduction in fiscal 2012 under a spending bill passed Friday in the House that's expected to prevent a feared government shutdown.

Under the bill, each agency would have $146.3 million to spend during the budget year that began in October, down from $155 million. It's the second cut this year for the two grant-making agencies, which began 2011 with budgets of $167.5 million. The combined cuts now total 12.7%.

Americans for the Arts, the national advocacy group that lobbies to maximize arts spending -– or at least to minimize arts-spending cuts -– said that $146.3 million is what President Obama had penciled in in his original budget proposal for the NEA and the NEH, representing a compromise between the $155 million suggested by the Senate and the $135 million proposed by the House during earlier subcommittee negotiations over the budget.

The Senate passed the spending bill Saturday morning, and it now moves to President Obama for his signature.

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NEA grants total $22.5 million, with $1.37 million for SoCal

November 17, 2011 |  3:43 pm

Mariachi Los Comperos de Nati Cano performing in 2006

This post has been corrected. Please see below for details.

The National Endowment for the Arts announced $22.5 million in grants Thursday; California organizations received $4.3 million, or a fifth of the total.

Nationally there was just one six-figure grant — $100,000 to New York City’s New Dramatists for its Playwrights Lab program to foster new plays. In the four previous grant rounds since fall 2009, the top grants had reached $140,000 or $150,000. Since then, the NEA has seen its annual budget cut 7.5%, returning to its 2008-09 level of $155 million. The average grant for arts organizations announced Thursday was $26,177, down from $27,848 in the four previous rounds.

Southern California’s share came to $1.37 million, awarded to 48 nonprofit organizations and one individual — Claremont fiction writer Sean Bernard, a University of Laverne associate professor whose $25,000 literary fellowship was one of 40 awarded nationwide, from a pool of 1,179 applicants. The NEA says 12 panelists read 35,000 pages to siphon literary wheat from chaff. The batting average was better for nonprofit organizations, with nearly half the 1,686 applicants getting at least the minimum grant of $5,000.

In Southern California, grants of $70,000 went to the Los Angeles Philharmonic for its Mahler Project, to South Coast Repertory to help underwrite its annual Pacific Playwrights Festival and to CalArts for its three-week summer arts program for high school students.

L.A.’s East West Players will receive $60,000 for the world premiere of “Coach Soichi Sakamoto and the Three-Year Swim Club,” Lee A. Tonouchi’s play based on a true story from 1930s Hawaii, in which Sakamoto's team won a national championship despite having trained in sugar plantation irrigation ditches rather than proper swimming pools.

Grants of $50,000 went to Los Angeles Opera for its production of “Albert Herring” by Benjamin Britten and to the city of San Fernando for its Mariachi Master Apprentice Program, in which members of Mariachi Los Comperos de Nati Cano (pictured) will train aspiring musicians in their art.

Grants of $40,000 to $45,000 went to the Pacific Chorale to record and premiere a choral/orchestral work by Frank Ticheli; the Pacific Symphony for a festival centered on Persian music and its influence on American composers; San Diego Opera for a co-commission of “Moby Dick” by composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer; the Los Angeles Master Chorale for “Andes to the Sea,” a program that will include a new piece by Gabriela Lena Frank performed with the folk-jazz group Huayucaltia;  L.A.’s Grand Performances for performances, film screenings and lectures about the San Pedro and Wilmington communities; and to the foundation that supports the John Anson Ford Theatres, for programs aimed at Latino and Asian American audiences.

Nationally, the only $90,000 grant went to the San Francisco Symphony’s youth orchestra training program.  Of the seven $80,000 grants, five went to East Coast-based organizations that create, present or foster dance.  The others went to Actors Theatre of Louisville, for its annual Humana Festival of New American Plays, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, for two world premieres: “All the Way,” Pulitzer-winner Robert Schenkkan’s play about Lyndon B. Johnson, and “Party People,” in which the Universes ensemble explores the Black Panthers and a 1970s Puerto Rican nationalist group, the Young Lords.


 Federal cultural-grants agencies to lose 11.2% of their funding under budget deal

NEA awards Watts arts grant amid skate park controversy

Federal arts grants include $2.5 million for Southern California

For the record: 10:40 a.m. Nov. 18: An earlier version of this post misspelled composer Frank Ticheli's name.

— Mike Boehm

Photo: Mariachi Los Comperos de Nati Cano perform in 2006. Credit: Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times.

Mitt Romney would cut federal cultural agencies by half

November 10, 2011 |  2:23 pm

Mitt Romney and Rick Perry during an October debate
In the race for the Republican presidential nomination, critics of Mitt Romney have complained that conservative stances he’s taking now contradict his policies as Massachusetts governor from 2003 through 2006. But when it comes to cultural funding, the differences are a matter of degree rather than a sharp reversal.

Earlier this month, candidate Romney (pictured at left, above, while debating opponent Rick Perry) targeted two federal arts and cultural grantmaking agencies, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, for “deep reductions.”

In an op-ed piece in USA Today, Romney said he would “eliminate every government program that is not absolutely essential [because] the federal government should stop doing things we don’t need or can’t afford,” then gave five examples. Four examples clearly cited programs or funding categories to be eliminated;  the fifth was “enact deep reductions in the subsidies for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Legal Services Corporation.”

We asked the Romney campaign for clarification — does he want to eliminate cultural grantmaking or reduce it? The response was that he doesn’t want to eliminate the NEA, NEH or the two other agencies but would cut their aggregate funding by half. The NEA and NEH now receive $155 million per year each — among the smallest agency appropriations in the federal budget. Earlier this year, a majority of Republican House members called for eliminating them.

As Massachusetts governor, Romney tried to restrain but not eliminate arts spending. He did not succeed: The state Legislature voted additional money each year, lifting the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s budget from $7.3 million to $12.1 million during his term. Romney’s own proposals had called for keeping the arts budget at $7.3 million — the funding level when he took office.

The most important arts legislation during Romney’s tenure was the 2006 creation of a Cultural Facilities Fund, which provides for annual grants to help nonprofit arts, historical and scientific organizations pay for construction projects. Romney vetoed the fund, but the Legislature overrode him. Since then, the state has granted $37 million under the program, according to Greg Liakos, spokesman for the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Presidential candidate Rick Perry’s hand on the cultural purse strings as governor of Texas since 2001 is harder to judge, because under the Texas system the governor has little authority over the budget. Texas budgeting takes place not annually but in two-year chunks, and Perry’s tenure has seen the budget for the Texas Commission on the Arts trend consistently downward, from $8.7 million in 2002 to $3.9 million for 2012.

In February, Perry said in his state of the state address that cultural spending was a luxury Texas couldn’t afford, given its projected $27-billion deficit: “Let’s suspend non-mission-critical entities like the Historical Commission or the Commission on the Arts until the economy improves.”

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Fire and water at Pasadena's AxS Festival

October 7, 2011 |  4:48 pm

Artist Adrian Lark's "Zumba Crater, Fly-Through"
The AxS Festival has been blazing a trail through the institutes of Pasadena for the last week but there’s still more to see, right up till its conclusion on Oct. 16.

Taking the theme of fire and water for this year’s investigation into how art intersects with science and vice versa, the festival, put on by the Pasadena Arts Council, offers several showcases for visual art inspired by outer space, dance that reflects on the desert, sound art curated by multimedia artist Steve Roden, and conversations about toxic water and wildfires.

It’s the right festival for a city studded with such premiere science institutions as the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology, as well as artistic gems that include the Dance Conservatory of Pasadena, the Art Center College of Design and the Armory Center.

Terry LeMoncheck, the executive director of the Pasadena Arts Council, said the festival took two years to plan and cost around $300,000, which the council secured in funding from various charitable foundations, including the NEA and the James Irvine Foundation. That money allowed it to commission several new pieces of work, an important goal of the festival.

“When you put an artist and a scientist together,” LeMoncheck said, “it’s about being in the moment and looking to the future. Artists and scientists have ideas and inquisitive minds all the time. Commissioning new work allows for that fertile territory where new ideas can happen, the kind that can transform lives or the world.”

For Roden’s "Ignite/Flow" showcase, taking place Friday night in the Wind Tunnel Gallery at the Art Center, the artist and arts council member was excited by the opportunity to simply let three of his favorite artists (composer Mark So, multimedia performance artists Yann Novak and Robert Crouch, and visual/sound artist Carole Kim) interpret the festival’s theme in three radically different ways.

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The arts economy is hurt by federal, state budget cutting

August 3, 2011 | 10:45 am

Budget protest
CNN reported Tuesday that Tea Party obstruction to the routine passage of a bill to raise the debt ceiling cost U.S. taxpayers at least $18 million. "That's the amount of additional interest the government had to pay investors Monday to sell Treasury bills that finance its operations," the report explained.

In the scheme of things like the federal budget, of course, $18 million is pocket change. I imagine it's what gets lost on an annual basis down under the sofa cushions at the Pentagon.

Still, I was struck by another comparison that could be made: The unnecessary expense amounts to nearly 12% of the entire annual budget of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Yes, 12%. That figure edges toward twice the budget cut administered to the tiny agency by Congress for the next fiscal year. One big reason that matters: jobs.

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NEH gives $40 million in grants; $3.2 million to California

August 2, 2011 |  6:51 pm

Dorothea Lange portrait

The National Endowment for the Humanities has announced $40 million in grants, including $3.2 million for scholars, museums and documentary filmmakers in California.

Like its sister agency, the National Endowment for the Arts, the NEH saw its current-year budget slashed 7.5% in April, down to $155 million, and its future prospects are iffy given the deficit-cutting mood in Washington. For now, there’s still money to go around.

L.A.’s Grammy Museum will get $550,000 to help produce “Rockin’ the Kremlin,” a film by director Jim Brown about the role American rock music played in weakening the Soviet empire.  A report last year on plans for the film said it includes an account of a 1977 Soviet tour by the Southern California-based Nitty Gritty Dirt Band that was said to play a part in capturing young Slavic imaginations, presumably helping to awaken them to the drawbacks of totalitarian rule. Brown’s past films include documentaries about Woody Guthrie, the Weavers, Peter Paul and Mary and a PBS series, “American Roots Music.”

Another $550,000 goes to the L.A.- and Berkeley-based documentary producer the Katahdin Foundation for “Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning.” A description on the Katahdin website says the biography of the photographer (pictured above), who is famed for documenting the Great Depression and the forced internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, is being directed by Lange’s granddaughter, Dyanna Taylor. Katahdin won a second grant, $75,000, for “Geographies of Kinship: The Korean Adoption Story.”

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art will receive $300,000 for its 2012 exhibition “Children of the Plumed Serpent: The Legacy of Quetzalcoatl in Ancient Mexico,” scheduled to open April 1 at the Resnick Pavilion. The grant will help fund the exhibition catalog, preparations for a subsequent tour, and public programs connected with the show.

UCLA landed three grants totaling $435,000, including $137,000 for a five-week seminar for college teachers on “the life, work and cultural milieu of Oscar Wilde” and $248,000 for a digital project that will investigate how recent mapping technologies such as GIS can be deployed in humanities research and teaching.

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