There's still a little life left in the National Endowment for the Arts. The organization is funded for fiscal year 2000 at about the same level as it was in the 1999 budget -- just under $100 million. From an all-time high of $175 million disbursed to needy arts groups in 1992, America's cultural tokenism still remains a vital part of many arts groups' ability to survive. The NEA's new chairman, Bill Ivey, announced grants to 10 North Texas arts groups in Dallas last week.
The Kitchen Dog Theater at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary received $5,000 to fund its second annual "New Works Festival," but KD development director Jeffrey Cranor says the show would've gone on with or without the grant. "We did the first New Works Festival without NEA funding, but we're pleased we won't have to this year," Cranor says. KD's application was for $12,000, or about half of the festival's total budget. "We're not disappointed in that at all," Cranor says. "All that means to us is that we must look other places to find the balance of support."
The Sammons Center for the Arts got a bigger NEA grant, but the percentage awarded was about the same as KD. "We asked for $50,000, and I'm thrilled to get $20,000," says executive director Joanna St. Angelo. Sammons is home to 15 resident arts organizations and provides support to 40 non-resident groups. The Sammons grant will fund a feasibility study for a second building for the organization, which has, true to its mission, outgrown its current facility, St. Angelo says. "The idea of this building was to incubate little arts groups and help them grow and become stable," she says. She adds that the study will consider whether the larger groups could be housed in another building while the center kept the existing Sammons Center for newer, smaller groups. "We participate in the Dallas Arts Resource System that consists of tiny groups just getting started who are not ready for an office but need the appearance of one."
St. Angelo says that between the resident organizations, the DARS groups, and the 22 arts organizations she's had to wait-list, Sammons is bursting at the seams. "After we find out what we need and get a solid budget, I don't know if we'll go back to the NEA to fund part of a capital campaign," she says. "We have a number of wonderful local foundations and individual donors in Dallas we will probably ask to help."