The County Museum of Art has received a $1-million challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the maximum grant awarded by the federal agency, to beef up its endowment fund. The grant must be matched 3 to 1 over a three-year period.
The award was among $21.5 million in challenge grants to 63 arts institutions across the nation announced Tuesday by the National Endowment. The money is expected to generate an additional $160 million in private funds, endowment officials estimated.
Sharing the top rung of challenge grants are the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Rhode Island School of Design, each of which received $1 million.
For the Los Angeles museum, which will open its Robert O. Anderson building housing modern and contemporary art in November, the grant comes at a particularly opportune time.
"In order to maximize the fullest potential of the newly expanded museum," Director Earl A. Powell III said, "an important objective will be to create additional support for the special programs, such as exhibitions and education for Southern California's residents and visitors."
Powell anticipates that the challenge grant will eventually mean more than $4 million to the museum's endowment, currently at $12 million. "We desperately needed it," he said of the grant. "The older museums, like the Met (Metropolitan Museum of Art) and the Cleveland Museum, for obvious reasons, have substantially more in place already. We will use the grant to inaugurate a major endowment campaign."
"In a time of constraint for the federal budget, we take pride in the extraordinary success story of the endowment's challenge program," National Endowment Chairman Frank Hodsoll said in a prepared statement. "Since its creation nine years ago, the program has worked to generate in excess of $1 billion in new non-federal dollars--dollars never before donated to assist the arts.
"Historically, challenge grantees have far exceeded the required match. . . , " Hodsoll noted. "They have used the federal grant to lever an average of $7-$8 for each federal dollar."
Ranging up from $100,000, the 1986 grants went to organizations in 23 states and the District of Columbia, as well as an American arts organization in France.
Besides the County Museum of Art, seven other grants in California were awarded to:
--Bella Lewitzky Dance Foundation, $100,000 for endowment.
--Performing Tree, an arts-in-education organization in Los Angeles, $100,000 for endowment and artistic initiative, a first-time challenge grantee.
--Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, $250,000 for endowment.
--Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, $500,000 for endowment, cash reserve, deficit elimination and capital fund.
--Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, $600,000 for endowment.
--San Francisco Ballet Assn., $600,000 for endowment and cash reserve.
--The Exploratorium in San Francisco, $650,000 for endowment.