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$550,000 Grant Will Help SCR Fund New Plays

Arts Gift from James Irvine Foundation includes $100,000 for a computer upgrade and a chance to unite companies statewide.

November 24, 1998|ZAN DUBIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

South Coast Repertory has been awarded a three-year, $550,000 grant in a major new initiative to support exemplary California arts organizations and to strengthen the state's arts community, officials announced Monday.

The James Irvine Foundation will give SCR $150,000 annually for the next three seasons, plus $100,000 for a computer upgrade as part of its Cornerstone Arts Organizations program, foundation officials said.

SCR will use its award, the largest operating grant in its 35-year history, to commission nine new plays, including one each season by a major American playwright, and to fund three collaborations created during its annual Artist-Inspired Workshops.

"This provides a marvelous range of commissioning opportunities," said David Emmes, SCR's producing artistic director. "So not only are we able to identify young and emerging writers and to work with mid-career writers, but to work with major established playwrights."

The grant, which has no matching requirement, will also support SCR's annual Pacific Playwrights Festival, which seeks to get new plays produced in West Coast theaters.

Other groups awarded grants, which are based on their operating budgets, are the San Francisco Opera ($700,000), the San Francisco Ballet ($700,000) and the Bay Area Video Coalition ($275,000).

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All four organizations will meet semiannually to share artistic and managerial expertise in an effort to "build statewide leadership across artistic disciplines," said Danton Miller, program manager for the James Irvine Foundation. Arts are a major focus of the 61-year-old group, which also funds education and other social needs.

"We're not sure what will come out of these conferences, but we have to believe that when you bring such visionary leaders together, sparks will fly," MIller said. "There's going to be a dialectic that can't help but [generate] ideas and perhaps even projects that will benefit all of the arts in California."

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