Local Arts Orgs Win Big from National Foundations

Santa was kind to PDX arts orgs, including YU's announcement today of a major grant from the Warhol Foundation.

By Aaron Scott January 8, 2013

For Christmas this year, it seems that Santa Claus loaded up his sleigh with bags of money and tossed them down the chimneys of a number of local arts organizations and artists.

Of course, another way to look at it would be to say that our arts orgs are rocking it and getting some real national recognition in one of its best forms: financial.

In a field that’s so often starved for cash, let’s play the rare game of follow the money. And please let us know who we're missing.

Yale Union (YU)
YU just told Culturephile the big news that it has received a grant for $60,000 from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts to support artistic programming over the next two years, in addition to $15,000 from the Henry Lea Hillman Jr. Foundation and $16,000 from the Oregon Community Foundation’s newly created Fields Fund, which was created by a gift of $150 million in May 2012 from the estate of Henry W. Fields (“the largest single gift ever made to OCF and one of the largest single gifts made to any community foundation in the country,” according to YU). Also, Portland real estate developer and Yale Union Founding Member Randy Rapaport has donated an endowment to grow the library. (Read our profile of Yale Union.)

Portland Baroque Orchestra
Between October 1 and the start of the year, Portland Baroque Orchestra received grants totaling $52,500 from three private foundations: the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation ($25,000 in general operating support), the Roy and Diane Martin Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation ($20,000 to expand PBO’s education and outreach work), and the Herbert A. Templeton Foundation ($7,500 also to aid the expansion of outreach and educational opportunities, in particular PBO’s upcoming partnership with the King School in North/NE Portland, Portland’s K-8 Turnaround: Arts school). PBO says the awards “will be transformative to PBO’s development of artistic programming and new accessibility, education and outreach initiatives.” (Read our profile of Portland Baroque Orchestra and its artistic director, Monica Huggett.)

Regional Arts & Culture Council
On December 20, the RACC announced its round of 2013 awards to the total tune of $732,440, covering 66 grants (of 352 applicants) to organizations and schools and 94 individual artists in Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington Counties. It is the largest sum ever for project grants, up five percent from last year.

See a full list of winners, which includes a broad range of many of the city’s arts orgs.

These are the highlights from RACC:

  • Culturally-specific artistic projects include performances of Lyndee Mah’s memoir piece E-B'an, Damaris Webb’s solo show The Box Marked Black, and Boom Arts’ puppet musical Tunde’s Trumpet. RACC also continues to fund diverse organizations like India Cultural Association, RASIKA, The Obo Addy Legacy Project, Painted Sky, and Portland Queer Documentary Film Festival.
  • The number of applications to RACC’s Media Arts category continues to grow every year, and Grand Detour received its first RACC award to produce the 2nd annual Experimental Film Fest at venues throughout the city. Other projects funded in this category include Sway of the Knife by Vu N. Pham and Cooped, a hand-drawn animated short film by Mike A. Smith.
  • RACC also funded a number of multi-discipline projects that included strong media or technology elements, including Water in the Desert’s interdisciplinary performance AMERICAN ME, and Bill Holznagel’s Daisy Shorts using film and puppetry. Kelly Rauer’s Underbelly and Jacob Pander’s Incident Energy are both multi-channel video installations, and Ben Darwish’s Adobe Globe is a long-form musical composition incorporating multimedia elements.
  • For the first time, RACC convened a visual arts panel focused solely on photography projects, which resulted in several first time project grant recipients including Teresa Christiansen, Anna Daedalus, Loren Nelson and TJ Norris.
  • RACC-funded projects will continue to engage youth in many ways, ranging from Staged! Portland's Musical Theatre Series’ professional premiere of “Ablaze: an a cappella musical thriller” written by local playwright and composer Matthew Zrebski, to the Girls Rock Institute  at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls,  and the Kukatonon Children's African Dance Troupe program. 
  • In addition, an anonymous donor continues to provide special funding for an annual “Innovation Prize” of $2,500. This year’s award for outstanding, innovative, media-oriented project goes to Orlund Nutt for a short movie based on the James Broughton poem, ‘Bear of Heaven.’

Oregon Arts Commission
On December 17, the OAC announced the 13 recipients (selected from 77 applicants) of the 2013 Individual Artist Fellowship for $3,000, including the honorary Joan Shipley Award to Holcombe Waller. The winners include:

Performing Arts:
Holcombe Waller, Portland; Joan Shipley Award, performance artist, musician
Molly Barth, Eugene; flutist
Jonathan Walters, Portland; director, actor
Joe Manis, Eugene; jazz saxophonist
Susan Chan, Portland; pianist

Dao Strom, Portland; literature: memoir and nonfiction
Andrea Stolowitz, Portland; playwright
M.E. Hope, Klamath Falls; poetry
Kirsten Rian, Portland; literature: nonfiction
Evan Schneider, Portland; literature: fiction (Read our profile of Schneider.)
Scott Sparling, Lake Oswego; literature: fiction
Geri Doran, Eugene; poetry
Mark Allen Cunningham, Portland; literature: fiction

Robert Rauschenberg Foundation’s Seed Grants
It predates December, but Christmas came early for Conduit Dance, Performance Works NW, and Shaking the Tree, and we’ve only covered it via Twitter. They were three of 20 ground-breaking small arts orgs nationally to get a call out of the blue saying that they were recipients of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation’s Seed Grants for  $10,000/year for three years with no strings attached to cover operating costs—what Shaking's artistic director, Samantha Van Der Merwe, calls: "such a blessing for a small company like Shaking the Tree."

PWNW is paying it forward: "We are making plans to share the wealth by finding new ways to support artistic creation and performance in our studio. The first of these efforts is Alembic Resident Artists, in which two lucky and deserving artists will be awarded 100 free hours of rehearsal space and a performance opportunity here at PWNW during the next year."

National Endowment for the Arts
And of course, there were the NEA Awards at the end of November that reached a number of Portland orgs, including Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Oregon Children's Theatre Company, White Bird, Miracle Theatre Group, Portland Center Stage, and the Northwest Film Center. Read our post about the awards.

We're also sitting on news of another major incoming winner. Stay tuned.


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