The National Endowment for the arts announced in July a total of $7.2 million in grants to 231 professional theatre companies for the 1993-94 performance season. The grants, awarded under the Theater Program’s Professional Theater Companies category, represent a decrease from the previous year, when 236 grants totaling $7.5 million were awarded.
The grants, ranging in size from $5,000 to $268,000, include first-time or reinstated support to 26 theatres and increases to 84 theatres who received support last year. A $268,000 grant to the Guthrie Theater of Minneapolis was the largest grant awarded, and the average was $31,050. In comparison, in 1986 the top grant reached a high of $315,000 and the average was $40,962, reflecting a nearly 25 percent drop in average support to professional theatre companies in the past eight years, without taking inflation into account.Order now
The NEA Theater Overview Panel convened June 23-24 in Washington for the yearly review of guidelines and funding categories. Program director Keryl McCord opened the meeting by underscoring the need for panelists to reconcile how to support bold new thinking in the face of diminishing funds. She urged
the panel to think about the full spectrum of theatre, including movement theatres, children’s theatres and culturally specific theatres.
During the course of the two-day meeting, the panel recommended no major changes, but they discussed a number of issues, including the possibility of reducing slightly the percentage of the budget presently allocated to the Professional Theater Companies category to create a pool of funds that could be rechanneled to playwright fellowships or solo artists. Also discussed was the question of changing the grant cycle to biennial funding, which has been under consideration for several years. Although the 1992 panel had pressed for a staff study of multi-year funding to be presented to his year’s panel for a final recommendation, the study had not yet taken place and the issue of biennial funding was tabled once again.
The panel followed by several weeks the first in a series of special think-tank meetings, convened by the Theater Program with a separate group of participants, but the results of the first meeting were not discussed by the Overview Panel.
Panelists attending this year’s Overview meeting were John Paul Batiste, executive director, Texas Commission on the Arts; Eve Brune, managing director, INTAR, New York; Carol North Evans, producing director, Metro Theater Company, St. Louis, Mo.; Tom Hall, managing director, Old Globe Theatre, San Diego (chairman); Paul Carter Harrison, playwright; Gregory Hicks, board member, Intiman Theatre, Seattle.
Also, Jim Lewis, dramaturg, Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis; Susan Medak, managing director, Berkeley Repertory Theatre; Jon Nakagawa, managing director, Vineyard Theatre, New York; Mary Robinson, artistic director, Philadelphia Drama Guild; Starling Sutton, real estate developer, Atlanta, Ga.; Lynette Turner, producing director, Perseverance Theatre, Douglas, Alaska; and Roberta Uno, artistic director, New World Theatre, Amherst, Mass.
The NEA also announced the latest Advancement Grant recipients in July–arts 42 groups that will participate in the first phase of the program, designed to provide technical assistance and develop long-term strategic plans. The 1994 Advancement participants include the Alice B. Theatre of Seattle, Philadelphia’s Arden Theatre Company, Arkansas Repertory Theatre, En Garde Arts in New York City, Horse Cave Theatre of Horse Cave, Ky., Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Detroit’s Theatre Grottesco North America, Underground Railway Theater of Arlington, Mass., Washington, D.C.’s Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and the Zachary Scott Theatre Center of Austin, Tex.