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Arts council grants keep local groups going in recession

About four dozen organizations share $1.6 million in funds
by: Courtesy of CHAP, Nine-year-old Teresa uses her feet to make a puppet under the guidance of Children’s Healing Art Project staff. She is one of the children who participated in the group’s programs.

The Regional Arts and Culture Council didn't let the recession stop it from giving nearly four dozen local arts organizations a boost this year.

On Monday, the council awarded more than $1.6 million in general support grants to 44 Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington county arts organizations. It was a $39,000 increase from grants awarded a year ago.

Most grants were given to organizations that have received council funding in the past. This year's list includes four first-time recipients. Children's Healing Art Project, The Third Angle New Music Ensemble, Third Rail Repertory Theatre and Wordstock, each will get more than $10,000 in annual grants for the next two years.

The council's city and county funding was down 4 percent this year, but general support grants increased because the council secured funding from local businesses through its growing 'Work for Art' campaign. The campaign asked local employees to donate through payroll deductions and brought artists into workplaces to promote the program.

One of the first-time recipients, Children's Healing Art Project, offers art classes both on and off hospital campuses for hospitalized children and their families. In 2009, the organization reached more than 10,000 children and families. The council's grant will help the Children's Project expand the programs, says Maria Gianotti, Children's Project managing director and accountant.

Council Executive Director Eloise Damrosch says all 44 organizations 'play a leading role in our mission to integrate arts and culture in all aspects of community life.' It has supported Portland arts organizations since it transformed in 1995 from a shared city and Multnomah County bureau known as the Metropolitan Arts Commission into a nonprofit. In 1997, its first year as a nonprofit, the council supported 26 local arts organizations, with $695,000 in general support grants.

The organization offers individual grants and professional development grants, as well as technical assistance and workshops for artists and consultations for organizations undergoing change. In addition, the Council's 'Right Brain Initiative' works to incorporate art-related learning into local K-8 school curriculum.