Grand Performances Celebrates 25th Anniversary Season with Grant Support from The James Irvine Foundation and California Community Foundation

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Award-winning arts presenter will use grants to continue its tradition of building diverse audiences and exposing underserved communities to leading local and international artists.

Grand Performances, Southern California’s premiere arts presenter has been awarded significant multi-year grants from two of the region’s most important arts-funding foundations in a milestone year. 2011 marks the 25th anniversary of this storied organization. Over the next two to three years, funding from The James Irvine Foundation and the California Community Foundation will support programming and outreach initiatives to help build a deeper, more diverse audience and reach out to underserved youth and communities.

The James Irvine Foundation’s grant provides $300,000 over three years to support ongoing international presentation efforts and to broaden and diversify audience participation. This grant gives Grand Performances the resources to continue developing programs that promote cross-community understanding and encourage recent immigrants to become more engaged in Los Angeles community life by presenting artists from their home countries on an established stage. It also allows for increased collaboration with local arts organizations with the goals of expanding cross-cultural communication and contributing to the artistic growth of both the touring and local artists working in related genres.

Irvine-funded programming will focus on contemporary and traditional art forms from Latin America, Eastern/Central Asia and the Caribbean. In 2011, this will include presentations by Indian Ink Theatre Company based in New Zealand, the Armenian Navy Band from Yerevan and Mariachi Rocko, a contemporary ensemble from Guadalajara.
These companies and artists will also participate in extended residencies that will include master classes, and other outreach programs hosted by Grand Performances.

The California Community Foundation’s grant of $95,000 over two years, will support initiatives to increase the participation of diverse, ethnic and low-income individuals and communities in the arts. This grant gives Grand Performances the resources to present each season four emerging and/or mid-career Los Angeles-based artists whose work is rooted in ethnic communities and commission at least two new works over the two-year grant period. Artists such as renowned international vocalist Sussan Deyhim, Richardo Lemvo, Ciro Hurtado, MC Rai and Geoff “Double G” Gallegos are wonderful examples of the talent whose music and culture mirrors the demographic that this grant program is intended to support. The grant will also be used to increase the number of partnerships with community-based and ethnic-specific media; to provide in-depth exposure to the performing arts for 1000 underserved youth per year; and to sustain the Music, Movement and Meaning (MMM) series of audience discussions.

“The California Community Foundation recognizes that the arts can help transform lives and communities, and Grand Performances is one of our most vital examples,” notes Leslie Ito, Program Officer for the Arts. “The Foundation applauds its 25 years of service to our community and is pleased to support its efforts over the next two years.”

“We are pleased to have this show of support from The James Irvine Foundation and The California Community Foundation”, states Michael Alexander, Executive Director of Grand Performances. “For 24 summers, our organization has endeavored to provide Southern Californians with the most culturally diverse and inclusive representations of global dance, music and theater. We are proud to receive these important grants which support our efforts to enhance the city’s rich and diverse cultural life.”

Grand Performances produces a nationally recognized free concert program that was initially conceived by the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency in 1987. It has grown with the ongoing support from California Plaza’s corporate owners (MPG Office Trust and the Omni Los Angeles Hotel) and a broad array of corporate sponsors, private donors, foundations and government arts funding agencies. It now has a $1.8 million operating budget and an eye-popping lineup of local and international performing artists. As a result, thousands of people who might never visit downtown, and thousands who might never see live performances, are coming to California Plaza, Grand Performances’ home base, to experience dance, music, theater and film.

The James Irvine Foundation is a private, nonprofit grantmaking foundation dedicated to expanding opportunity for the people of California to participate in a vibrant, successful and inclusive society. The Foundation’s grantmaking focuses on three program areas: Arts, California Democracy and Youth. Since 1937 the Foundation has provided over $1 billion in grants to more than 3,000 nonprofit organizations throughout California. With $1.5 billion in assets, the Foundation made grants of $65 million in 2010 for the people of California.

The California Community Foundation is a philanthropic endowment that makes grants from many individual funds to nonprofit organizations and individuals (usually through scholarships) in Los Angeles County and beyond. With its hundreds of philanthropic partners, the foundation supports nonprofit organizations and public institutions with funds for six priority areas that work to improve the quality of life among the most vulnerable populations are: arts, education, health care, human development, neighborhood revitalization and civic engagement. In the last five years, CCF has received more than $1 billion in contributions and granted nearly $900 million to nonprofit organizations in Los Angeles and beyond.

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