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Grants totaling $3.6 million go to arts groups in OC, Riverside, San Diego and San Bernardino

October 9, 2009 |  3:14 pm

Bowers1 The Bowers Museum in Santa Ana and the Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Beach each will receive $400,000 grants from the James Irvine Foundation, while nine other small and mid-size arts organizations in Orange, San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino counties will get $275,000 to $375,000 under a program aimed at helping them expand their audience and shore up their finances during tough economic times.

The grants, totaling $3.6 million for the 11 groups, will be paid over three years. According to their last available federal tax statements -- all from before the September 2008 meltdown -- the organizations' annual budgets ranged from $550,000 for the Oceanside Museum of Art to more than $5 million each for Bowers and OCMA.

Other museums reaping grants from the San Francisco-based Irvine Foundation are the Laguna Art Museum in Laguna Beach and the Riverside Art Museum. Musical organizations on the list are San Diego's Mainly Mozart and Orchestra Nova San Diego (formerly the San Diego Chamber Orchestra) and the Redlands Community Music Assn. Saint Joseph Ballet of Santa Ana and San Diego's Cygnet Theatre Company also got grants. 

Kirsten Schmidt, spokeswoman for the Orange County Museum of Art, said its plans for the money include improving its website and making more of its collection of contemporary art available online.

-- Mike Boehm

Photo: Bowers Museum. Credit: Karen Tapia / Los Angeles Times