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Alliance Considers Activist Role : Panel May Seek Multicultural Arts Aid

January 09, 1987|HERMAN WONG | Times Staff Writer

The Orange County Arts Alliance, which has been chided by state officials for failing to be sufficiently activist, may seek state support for an extended local program in multicultural arts.

Alliance president Robert Garfias said the final decision on whether to submit the proposal to the state's official arts-grants agency will be made in mid-February, pending a preliminary survey of the local arts programs for Latino, Asian, black, American Indian and other ethnic-minority groups.

"This (project) will be our biggest effort yet in the multicultural field. We want to know who's out there, what is being done, what is their (community) visibility," said Garfias, who is UC Irvine's dean of fine arts.

The deadline for submittal to the California Arts Council is Feb. 23. The grants in this local arts alliances' category, which would be for the 1987-88 fiscal year, are to be announced at the state council's regular June 11-12 meeting.

The proposal comes several months after a key Orange County Arts Alliance grant request was rejected by the state council--the first such rejection for the Orange County organization since the statewide alliances' grant program began in 1980.

Although the state council last year approved a $17,000 basic operational grant, it turned down the Orange County request for underwriting the hiring of a full-time project administrator. The Orange County hiring request was for $22,500.

The state council's advisory panel urged rejection of the hiring grant because, the panelists argued, the Orange County Arts Alliance--now mostly a support and educational organization--needed first to come up with more aggressive programs in community outreach, government relations and fund raising.

"They (panelists) felt the Orange County people could do a lot more in advocacy, developing relations with the private and public sector, and direct programs. That is what we (the state agency) are asking of all such county alliances," said Gloria Segal, the agency's administrator for the local alliances' program.

"They felt that last year's proposal for hiring funds was premature, since these kinds of programs by the Orange County council were not in place," added Segal, who said the project requests of seven other county alliances were also rejected last year.

In 1985, the state agency awarded the Orange County alliance the usual $17,000 basic grant but also gave $30,000 for a public television project.

Michele Weigand, the Orange County alliance's administrative director, said the multicultural survey now under way is being financed with a special $3,000 grant under the state's new grant program for multicultural--or folk arts--projects.

The state's folk arts program has been accelerated in the past year, due in part to prodding from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal grant-giving agency that has given folk arts programs a higher priority.

"It's all part of the process that all state and county (arts) councils are doing, not just in folk arts but in all areas. Our Orange County organization is but a symbol of this transition to move into a more active phase," said Garfias, who is vice chairman of the California Arts Council's folk arts advisory panel.

As for the state agency's cutback last year to the Orange County Arts Alliance, Garfias said: "They are asking more of us, and rightly so. But they're asking this of every (county) group, and the competition for state funds is greater than ever."

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