Small Arts Orgs With Diverse Audiences Could See Funding Boost

<p>(Corey H. Jones/CPR News)</p>
<p>Arts Street executive director Stella Yu wants more SCFD funding for smaller organizations like hers.</p>
Photo: Stella Yu of SCFD organization Arts Street
Arts Street executive director Stella Yu wants more SCFD funding for smaller organizations like hers.

pleas for more funding from smaller organizations, the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District board has made moves to create a specific fund of extra grants for certain groups that target underserved communities.

In 2014, the SCFD handed out $52 million in sales and use tax revenue to around 270 organizations. Most of that money from the cultural sales and use tax goes to five big institutions -- known as Tier I groups -- like the Denver Zoo and Denver Art Museum.

Some 240 small groups -- known as Tier III organizations -- across seven counties divvy up 14 percent of the take. The rest goes to the mid-sized regional organizations, or Tier II groups.

New legislation aims to give more money to those small- and mid-sized groups, but some have said it's not enough. Voters will decide in November whether to extend SCFD through 2030.

To assist some of those smaller groups, the SCFD board voted unanimously to create an additional fund by asking the big institutions to give $150,000 each year from their general operating budgets.

According to a statement released Thursday:

Grants from the fund will be available to SCFD tier III organizations that have operated for at least 10 years and who provide programs and services for traditionally underserved communities including racial and ethnic minorities, people with mental and physical disabilities, the elderly, veterans, the GLBTQ community, low income communities and geographically underserved areas.

However, those grants won't be created until 2018 and will be contingent on whether voters decide to extend SCFD in November.