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Revised Rules

Changes to NEA funding guidelines, and other funding partnerships and issues.

The National Endowment for the Arts has released its 1985-86 Theatre Program guidelines—which include many changes in procedures and funding amounts—and announced upcoming application deadlines.

Changes in application procedures include the requirement that applicants for the Professional Theatre Companies and National Resources categories with budgets over $100,000 submit certified financial statements.

Mimes and mime companies may now apply for support under the Theatre Program. Mime companies may apply under the Professional Theatre Companies category and mime artists are eligible for fellowships. Mime activities are also eligible for support in several other categories of the Theatre Program.

In a change initiated last year, primary responsibility for obtaining a site visit for a professional theatre company rests with the applicant. On-site evaluations are a critical component of the application, and theatres without site reports will generally not be funded.

A new rule states that site visits will not be made to companies which have been rejected for the last three years. Such companies could, however, receive a site visit in the following year. Other changes include:

Professional Theatre Companies: Funding amounts have been increased and will range from $5,000 to $325,000. Grants generally will not exceed half the total project costs or half the total artists’ compensation for a proposed project, and in certain cases, grants and matching funds may be restricted to artist compensation. Highest priority will be given to organizations which demonstrate significant attention to the compensation of artists.

Professional Theatre Touring: In addition to theatre presenters, presenters of those individual mimes who have been grantees under the Dance Program in the past three years will now be eligible under the Theatre Program for support for the presentations.

Ongoing Ensembles: Guidelines are now included for this category (introduced with a separate program announcement in 1984), designed to help theatre companies which are current grantees of the Theatre Program create or strengthen continuing relationships with artists. 

Playwrights and Translators Commissions: These two are designed to encourage creative relationships between literary artists and theatre companies on specific projects. Commissions of up to $10,000 will be awarded to theatres for playwrights and up to $7,500 for translators; all must be matched by the theatre applicant.

Playwright and Translator Fellowships: Fellowship award ranges to individual translators have been increased to $7,500-$15,000, up from $6,250-$12,500 last year. One-and two-year fellowships continue to be available in amounts of $20,000 and $37,500, respectively.

Artistic Associates: The maximum grant amount has been increased from $10,000 to $15,000.

Professional Theatre Training: The maximum grant has been increased from $50,000 to $60,000.

Published guidelines will be available early next month from the Theatre Program, National Endowment for the Arts, Washington, DC 20506.

Ongoing Ensembles

Grants totalling $1.3 million were awarded for the first time by the National Endowment for the Arts Theatre Program to companies with ongoing ensemble programs.

Ongoing Ensembles is a new NEA offering initiated “to help existing theatre companies create or strengthen continuing relationships with artists,” through long-term development of an ensemble with continuous training and high artistic standards.

Out of 51 theatres requesting a total of $10.3 million in this category, 8 were awarded grants ranging from $60,000-$310,000. Grants went to Arena Stage ($310,000), Circle Repertory Company ($260,000), Milwaukee Repertorv Theater ($65,000), Roadside Theater ($60,000), San Francisco Mime Troupe ($90,000), Repertorio Español ($120,000), Trinity Square Repertory Company ($220,000) and The Wooster Group ($170,000).

The grants cover the first year of operation of the program for projects beginning after June 1, 1985. NEA chairman Frank Hodsoll noted that the program is intended to provide five years of federal support toward the grantee’s development of their ensembles. Subsequent grants will be awarded in declining amounts over the five years so that additional revenues to match the federal funds are required each year, with the long-range goal of making each effort self-sustaining.

NEA Theatre Deadlines

Professional Theatre Company: Dec. 1, 1984
Director Fellows: Dec. 8, 1984
Artistic Associates: Dec. 8, 1984
Fellowships for Playwrights: Jan. 1-Apr. 10, 1985
Fellowships for Translators: Jan. 1-Apr. 10, 1985
Fellowships for Mimes: Jan. 10, 1985
Ongoing Ensembles: Jan. 15, 1985
Professional Theatre Training: Feb. 1, 1985
Special Artistic Projects: Letter of Inquiry: Feb. 1, 1985; Application: Mar. 1, 1985
Professional Theatre Touring: Mar. 1, 1985
National Resources/Services & Publications
Playwrights/Commissions: Mar. 31, 1985
Translators/Commissions: Apr. 10, 1985

Japan Exchange

The National Endowment for the Arts and the Japan-US Friendship Commission announced that five American artists have been awarded US/Japan Exchange Fellowships under the US/lapan Artist Exchange, a program sponsored jointly by the two organizations and the Agency for Cultural Affairs in Japan.

Playwright Susan Yankowitz and mime Daniel Stein are among the five. Yankowitz plans to write a play for live actors and puppets, and will study the Japanese form of puppet theatre, Bunraku. Stein will study with Kabuki and Noh master teachers, and with contemporary theatre directors, including Tadashi Suzuki.

Other fellowship winners are David Mura, a poet from Minneapolis, New York visual artist Dotty Attie and Bill Fontana, a sound sculptor from Berkeley.

Since the program was established in 1977, six- to nine-month fellowships have been given to five mid-career American artists for work in Japan and to a similar number of qualified Japanese artists for pursuit of their work in the United States.

The NEA is currently accepting applications for 1985-86 Japan Exchange Fellowships in Theatre, Opera-Musical Theatre, Dance and other disciplines. For information contact the International Program Office, NEA, Washington, DC 20506.

Energy Tangle

The National Endowment for the Arts has been caught in the cross-fire of debate over America’s energy policy, resulting in the reduction of prospects for the arts agency’s fiscal year 1985 funding by more than $5 million.

The House Interior Appropriations Committee’s recommendation of $175 million for the NEA dropped to $169.8 million in August when 69 House Democrats joined 143 Republicans in approving a three percent across-the-board cut totalling $247 million in the House version of the Interior Appropriations bill. The cut was linked to a debate which also resulted in a $5 billion reduction in spending authority for the embattled Synthetic Fuels Corporation over the extent to which the corporation should pursue development of synthetic fuels from oil shale, tar sands and coal to insure American energy independence.

The Appropriations Committee on the Senate side had earlier approved $162 million for the NEA for 1985, representing level funding compared with 1984, and virtually assuring that the final appropriation will exceed the Administration’s request of $143.9 million.

At press time, the Senate figure had yet to be approved by a vote on the floor, following which representatives from both chambers were scheduled to meet in conference in early September to resolve differences between the two versions.

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