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Nearly $100,000 disbursed to art organizations in Anchorage

(KTUU)
Published: Feb. 3, 2017 at 9:31 PM AKST
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The Anchorage Opera Company is just one week away from opening night of their latest production, and one of their last rehearsals ended on a high note.

On Friday, the program was awarded $11,410 from the municipality’s 2017 art grants.

From music to dance to cultural artifacts, Anchorage invested just under $100,000 to help fund local art organizations.

“It pays to keep the lights on, it pays salaries,” said general director for the Anchorage Opera Company Reed Smith.

Along with nearly every city department and program having its budget scrutinized, the municipality’s annual Anchorage Art Grants faced the the axe in 2017 as well. According to the mayor, the total money invested in the art program shrunk by about 20 percent compared to last year.

Still, the stage has a powerful advocate in City Hall.

“As long as I'm mayor, I'm going to do everything I can to support the arts,” said mayor Ethan Berkowitz. “Arts have done a tremendous amount for me, arts have done a lot for my family, arts have done a lot for the local economy, and arts do a lot to make sure Anchorage is a great place to live.”

Programs were awarded the money following a three day presentation made to the Arts Advisory Commission.

This year’s recipients include: Alaska Dance Theater, Alaska Native Heritage Center, Alaska Sound Celebrations, Alaska String Camps, Alaska Chamber Singers, Anchorage Classical Ballet Academy, Anchorage Community Theatre, Anchorage Concert Association, Anchorage Concert Chorus, Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, Anchorage Opera Company, Asian Alaska Cultural Center, Cyrano’s and Music Machine.

Reed said, the opera’s grant will assist in paying for one of their three annual productions. Next Friday, his team will perform an opera called Glory Denied. It follows the story of how America’s longest prisoner of war struggled at home when returning from Vietnam.

“Performing arts groups need to be part of the community, they need to give back, and they need to be more than just a place to see a show,” said Reed.