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Stimulus money goes to local arts

Of the $1.1 billion allotted to Rhode Island under the economic stimulus bill signed by President Obama in February, $291,500 is on its way to local art projects.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 included $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts. Forty percent of those funds will go to state and regional art agencies, including the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts.

The funding "is mostly about job creation, job preservat-ion," said Fred Sneesby, a spokesman for Gov. Donald Carcieri '65.

Randall Rosenbaum, the executive director of RISCA, said the group submitted its application to the NEA about one month ago and was approved for $291,500 in funding.

The money will be distributed to nonprofit arts organizations — specifically state arts agencies and regional arts organizations — through a grant-application process that is set to conclude on May 1. The groups that receive funding will be announced in early July, Rosenbaum said.

RISCA has been surveying the art field since October and has noted a significant decrease in contributions to the arts, he said. That in turn has led arts organizations to cut staff,
he said.

Under these conditions, Rosenbaum said, the funds will have "a visible impact" on the state's economy.

Public funding for the arts "is a main blood line for a lot of us," said Mike Townsend, a local artist.

But artists won't be the only ones to benefit from the fund, Rosenbaum said. Because the arts are a significant part of the state's economy and require a smaller investment than other industries, the money allotted to the arts will have a widespread impact.

More performances will bring more diners to restaurants and more customers to parking garages, Rosenbaum said.


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