The Summer Olympics are over, but L.A. arts organizations could be in a sprinter's stance Sept. 23, when the starter's gun will sound in a competition for $935,000 in federal arts-grant money. The winners will stamp an Angeleno imprint on next year's annual International Book Fair in Guadalajara.
The fair, billed as the world's largest event for Spanish-language publishers, invites a country, state or region to create and program a special pavilion as guest of honor. L.A. is the first municipality ever chosen. The National Endowment for the Arts is footing the $1.6-million bill -- with $800,000 budgeted for visual and performing arts grants, $135,000 for authors' honorariums and $300,000 to design and build an L.A. pavilion that will be open throughout the Nov. 28-Dec. 6, 2009 event.
Joe Smoke, grants director for L.A.'s Cultural Affairs Department, says the money will fund a smorgasbord of arts and literature (not just in Spanish) indicating the quality and diversity of L.A.'s regional scene. Applications for visual and performing arts organizations will be posted on the department's website. The NEA will make a list of writers to be considered, and a literary jury will pick 40 to 60 to give readings and serve on discussion panels at the book festival.