Arizona Commission on the Arts Cancels Art Tank, Reduces Grants Amid Budget Cuts

Arizona Commission on the Arts announced on Monday, April 13, that it will put on hiatus popular grants programs including Arizona Art Tank, among other changes, to cope with its budget being cut by $1 million.

In March 2015, Governor Doug Ducey signed into law Arizona's 2016 fiscal year budget, which cut the commission's funding by $1 million. Funded by both the state and the National Endowment for the Arts, that leaves the organization with about $2.3 million to spend on programs and services, grants, and administration in the coming fiscal year (July 2015 through June 2016).

That means in its 50th year, the commission's total funding "will be comparable to levels reached during the depths of the recent recession, and could even hit a 30-year low," per the announcement, signed by executive director Robert Booker.

See also: Orange Theatre Among Top Grant Winners at Arizona Art Tank 2015

Three grants programs will be placed on indefinite hiatus. They include the Arizona Art Tank grant program, which blends artistic entrepreneurship with public pitching events and community involvement; the Chamber and Tourism Membership Grant, which provides funding support to arts organizations applying for membership in business or tourism groups; and the Community Catalyst Grant, which funded partnerships between arts and non-arts organizations in small and rural communities.

The Art Tank and Community Catalyst programs were launched in fiscal year 2014, when the commission's total funding topped $4 million.

All other grant programs will be downsized. Going forward, there will be one application cycle for Arts Learning and Festival grants. According to the announcement, applicants vying for remaining grants "should expect the May 2015 panel review for these programs to be far more competitive than in years past."

Meanwhile, the Arizona Teaching Artist Roster, a juried compendium of artist-teachers, will be discontinued.

More cuts are being considered, but the commission will announce plans for a new statewide initiative in the coming weeks.

"The Arts Commission is preparing to embark on a journey of exploration and discovery, to map out a bold way forward," Booker writes. "We believe that the time is right - to stand together, unleash our imaginations, take strategic risks, and forge new paths."

Editor's note: This post has been updated from its original version with new information and to reflect more accurate budget estimations.

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