PASADENA — City grants ranging from $22,500 for the Pasadena Playhouse to $2,870 for a 12-year-old musician to $600 for a dance ensemble will be recommended by the city Arts Commission to the Pasadena Board of Directors June 13.
The proposed awards, totaling $180,000, would go to six individuals and 23 organizations based on their proposed projects and quality of work. This will be the first year the city has conducted a competition for arts grants.
The city received applications from 32 artists and 41 organizations asking for a total of more than $1 million under the new Grants-in-Aid program, but has only $180,000 to award.
Dorrie Braun Poole, chairman of the Arts Commission, said the awards process has raised a number of controversial issues, particularly including whether Pasadena should give money to arts organizations outside the city and whether students should be eligible for grants.
The commission is recommending grants to a number of organizations outside Pasadena, such as the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles and the Huntington Library in San Marino, based on the service they provide to Pasadena residents.
The commission based its recommendations on artistic appraisals made by a group of peer-review panels that studied funding applications and assessed their merit.
Poole said the panels, consisting of artists, critics and others involved in the arts, were given few guidelines. The only instruction given to the panel and the applicants was, "Give us quality."
Most of the money is being recommended for established institutions, but some funds were allocated to help individual artists.
For example, the commission is recommending that Gregory Jefferson, a 12-year-old flutist, be given $2,870 to continue his musical training.
The boy's mother, Joann Jefferson, said that even though her son applied for $4,100, she is quite happy with any encouragement the city can offer her son's budding career, which has already included solo performances at the Hollywood Bowl. "I'm satisfied with any acknowledgement for him, whether it's $500 or $5,000," she said.
Poole said there is no doubt that the youngster has exceptional talent, but the question that has been raised is whether grants should be made for educational purposes. When the program was being formulated, Poole said, "none of us considered that we would, in essence, be giving scholarships."
In making its recommendations to the Board of Directors, the commission did not exclude any of the individual artists or organizations proposed for funding by its peer-review panels. But it did change the funding amounts.
The panels had originally recommended grants totaling more than $250,000. This amount was pared to $180,000 by a committee of panelists by putting a cap of $10,000 on the top awards. The commission decided to remove the cap and apply proportional cuts instead.
Three organizations, the Pasadena Playhouse, the Pasadena Symphony and the Pacific Asia Museum, received the highest possible ranking in the art panel evaluations. The commission recommended allocations of $22,500 each to the Pasadena Playhouse and the symphony and $9,000 to the Pacific Asia Museum.
Other major proposed grants include $16,000 to the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra for concerts at Ambassador Auditorium; $10,500 to the Music Center Opera Assn. to bring 3,000 Pasadena children to the opera; $8,000 each to Kidspace to expand its ethnic arts festival and the Huntington Library for general operations; $7,500 to the Da Camera Society to present chamber music concerts at historic sites, including five in Pasadena, and $7,000 to the Southwest Museum for general operations.
Other smaller grants would go toward an experimental art program for preschool children, create an art studio at Pasadena Alternative School, help support concerts in Pasadena by the Southwest Chamber Music Society and the Coleman Chamber Music Assn., and provide general support to the Pasadena Community Orchestra.
Individual artists recommended for funding include Randall West, who proposes to produce a billboard and photographs of Pasadena; Richard Bunkall, who plans to create paintings, sculptures and drawings; Gifford Myers, who would create sculpture and other artworks; Milbre Burch, who would give storytelling performances for children and adults; and Sally Storch, who would create six paintings depicting city dwellers.