Three local arts organizations will share $150,000 grants from NEA

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nea-arts-grantsThe Khmer Arts Academy, International City Theatre (ICT) and the Long Beach Opera will each be awarded grants in the amount of $50,000 from the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA). The organizations will use the funding to preserve jobs that have been threatened by a decline in philanthropic donations during the current economic downturn.

The grants are a part of the nearly $30 million in NEA funding from President Obama’s economic stimulus package. California art groups received about $5 million.

“I will never forget 10 years ago when I first saw Khmer dance which tells a story of history, discipline, grace, balance and yes art,” Congresswoman Laura Richardson said. “Since my arrival in Long Beach, I have always felt a sense of service to the Cambodian community since they were barely recognized and supported unlike other groups in the area. To start, I successfully brought the Cambodian New Year celebration back to El Dorado Park in Long Beach, started the New Year Parade on Anaheim Street and continue to support the Khmer Arts Academy’s efforts to preserve several jobs and culture.”

The Long Beach Opera has been presenting new and rare works since its opening in 1979 with the goal of instilling a love of opera in youth. Originally named the Long Beach Grand Opera, it is the oldest operatic producing company in the Los Angeles region. Its success and the subsequent founding of other opera companies in the Los Angeles area have made Southern California one of the major operatic centers in the country.

Congresswoman Richardson said “my father was a musician and so I understand the benefits of being surrounded by various forms of art during adolescence. There are so many professions that can come out of the arts. It truly is an important aspect of every child’s development.”

“We know that when children are participating in the arts, they have more balance and are more likely to succeed academically,” Congresswoman Richardson noted. “Therefore, it is important to help these outstanding organizations preserve jobs during these tough economic times so that they can continue to engage our youth and play a positive role in their academic and social maturity.”

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