NEW YORK (AP) — A foundation run by hedge fund manager George Soros on Wednesday announced $11 million in grants to 79 small to mid-sized performing arts organizations, money the groups said would help them focus on programming during trying economic times for the arts.
The Open Society Foundations announced Wednesday that the one-time grant program focused primarily on smaller and less visible organizations in New York City with budgets from $75,000 to $7 million — institutions more affected by the economy and in need of assistance.
The grants, distributed over two years, range from $65,000 to $250,000.
"The arts, and arts education, are a vital part of the fabric of New York City," Soros said in a statement.
The grants mean that organizations like the Collegiate Chorale in Manhattan, which received $150,000, can now consider several recording projects, including a piece it will present next season, Kurt Weill's "Knickerbocker Holiday," said Executive Director Jennifer Collins.
The Collegiate Chorale, which has performed with such conductors as Arturo Toscanini and Leonard Bernstein, presents a range of vocal music, including opera, choral classics and contemporary pieces.
"It's been an institutional goal for us ... working for this kind of recognition," Collins said. The organization has a $1.5 million annual budget and has not had to cut programming, but it has scaled back on its marketing and rehearsal hours.
The Soros foundation cited a recent report by the Alliance for the Arts that found more than 60 percent of the city's arts organizations have had to make significant budget cuts, resulting in cuts in public programming and industry jobs.
The Paper Bag Players, a touring company that performs for 35,000 school children annually throughout the city, received $100,000 from the foundation.
"It feels like a weight has been lifted from our shoulders," said Managing Director Michael Oakes.
In the last year, the Paper Bag Players has had to reduce its $8 ticket price because many children couldn't afford it. Those cuts hurt the 52-year-old organization because the sales help boost its programs, Oakes said. Last year, its operating budget was $892,000. It has had to cut staff and combine its studio and office into one space.
Ann Beeson, executive director of the U.S. Programs at the foundation's Open Society Institute, said the city's nonprofit arts and cultural organizations employ more than 160,000 people and are a vital component to the city's "economic stability and social change."
Groups were selected for the quality of their artistic work and educational programs. Others receiving grants include the Joyce Theater Foundation, Cunningham Dance Foundation, Dance Theater of Harlem, Primary Stages, Ballet Hispanico, Brooklyn Philharmonic and the Harlem School of the Arts.
The grants will be managed by the Fund for the City of New York.
Soros' philanthropy includes initiatives in human rights, education and public health around the globe.
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