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Arts Artifacts

When it rains ...

You may not have heard the thunderclap last week, or spotted the multiple lightning strikes, but the second week of September 2005, was positively Olympean for the arts. On September 16, the Alameda symbolically re-started construction on the Museo Americano building at Market Square, by clipping a chain-link fence encasing Alameda President Henry R. Muñoz III and various other dignitaries. Muñoz announced that the $10 million capital campaign is now complete (although no details were provided), and that the Smithsonian-affiliated museum of Hispanic heritage, which has faced numerous delays since its 2001 groundbreaking, is now slated to open its doors in 2006 `see "Long time coming," May 5-11, 2005`.

That's enough reason by itself to break out the Champagne, but ice down the good stuff, baby, because on September 15, the San Antonio City Council approved a new City budget that adds $819,000 to the Office of Cultural Affairs $2.1 million annual allotment, in addition to $500,000 allotted specifically for implementing The Cultural Collaborative, the city-wide cultural development plan that kicked off in the fall of 2003 `see "Drum roll, please," January 20-26, 2005`.

The extra arts funds will come from a 4 percent increase in the Hotel Occupancy Tax expenditure, bringing total HOT tax support for arts and culture to 12 percent.

OCA Director Felix Padrón says, pending approval by the Cultural Arts Board, some of the extra $819,000 will be used to increase funding to arts organizations who are in their second year of the two-year funding cycle, and to fund more community art projects in addition to the five that were already approved for the upcoming fiscal year.

In the meantime, the 2007-08 funding round begins in January or February 2006, when OCA publishes the new application and guidelines, which are being revised following 2004's contentious process `see "Clear as mud," July 1-7, 2004`. This week or next, a draft of the new funding-application process will be available for review, and Padrón says OCA will schedule a public-input meeting in early October. Stay tuned for more info.

TCC, meanwhile, will use some of its new funding to launch a branding and outreach campaign titled SA ... SA, which stands for "What Makes San Antonio ... San Antonio." (Answer: you and me.) Padrón says the 17-member TCC Implementation Committee - which includes Texas Cultural Trust councilmember Aaronetta Pierce and Frost National Bank VP Tom Frost III - will decide which initiatives to fund first. Because the $500,000 is a one-time allotment, Padrón favors some one-time investments, including a feasibility study of the Municipal Auditorium as a home for the Lyric Opera and other performing arts and a public-art master plan. A small-business incubator program for creative-economy businesses is also on the table. Keep tabs on SA ... SA, and the funding process, at sanantonio.gov/art/website.

- Elaine Wolff


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