News and notes from the San Antonio art scene
As we put this issue to bed, City Council is contemplating the Cultural Arts Board's final recommendations for the current funding cycle, slated to begin October 1. The figures, generated through a hotly contested process of peer panel evaluations, public CAB meetings, and appeals have made plenty of folks mad, not the least of whom are Gemini Ink director Rosemary Catacalos - who harshly scolded CAB members for being arrogant because they recommended city-funded diversity training for everyone (CAB included) next time around - and the Esperanza's Michael Marinez. "This process was made to fix inequities of color," he said, and told the board members they would be remembered as the CAB that defunded the West Side organizations.
That charge is exaggerated: Esperanza and Conjunto Taller were each awarded $5,000 for their appeals, bringing Esperanza's total up to $97,041, including an extra $1,800 CAB awarded each successful applicant from excess funds. Urban-15 received $55,474, the Guadalupe was awarded $326,688, and Centro Cultural Aztlán came away with $87,054. Council could still move those numbers around, although historically they do not; this time. The Council did recommend $400,000 during its September 16 meeting for the Symphony, which was not recommended for funding via CAB and appealed directly to City Hall. The money will come from General Funds and the Airport Operating Fund (in exchange, the Symphony will perform at least three times at the airport).
The Office of Cultural Affairs has promised to revamp the funding process through the Cultural Collaborative initiative, a topic that may well come up at the Citywide Town Hall Meeting, 5:30-7:30pm October 18 at McAllister Auditorium on the San Antonio College campus.
A potential move that could put some more cash in OCA's tight budget next cycle: Some City Council members are reportedly sympathetic to the idea of taking organizations that operate City-owned properties out of the competitive funding process. The Carver Community Cultural Center is already a separate line item, and other candidates include the Witte Museum and the Guadalupe. The Carver had to fight back a motion last week to make it compete through OCA next time around, but best practices in other cities view designated funding for municipal properties as a way of protecting the community's investment. More on that, and the funding cycle, to come. For previous coverage see "Bottom line blues," June 24-30, 2004; "Clear as mud," July 1-7, 2004; "To CAM or to CAB," August 5-11, 2004, and "Runaway panel," August 19-25, 2004.
Applications are due October 1 for Art Papers first annual Young Writers Contest. Entries are welcome from aspiring art critics who were 25 years old or younger on July 1, 2004. First prize is $550 and, of course, fame. For more info, visit www.artpapers.org.
San Antonio's contemporary arts community lost one of its great friends and visionaries Saturday, September 18, when Bernard Lifshutz died after a long struggle with cancer. Until recently, the unfailingly curious businessman and philanthropist could still be seen touring the exhibits at Blue Star Arts Complex, the warehouse redevelopment he pioneered. Lifshutz was a real estate developer who proved through projects such as Blue Star and the Soapworks apartments that it's possible to make a profit with a conscience. Among his many contributions, he leased the Blue Star Center for Contemporary Art their large space for a nominal fee, allowing the organization to maintain a home during lean years. The arts organizations who have honored him, from the Witte Museum to Jump-Start Theatre, attest to his wide influence. Lifshutz is credited, along with Arthur "Hap" Veltman (who passed away in 1988) and Walter Mathis, with the renaissance of downtown San Antonio, King William, and Southtown. He is survived by his sons, James, who is carrying on the Southtown development with the Blue Star Silos project, and Scott, who lives and paints in New York City.
Compiled by Elaine Wolff