Times Staff Writer

The Orange County Arts Alliance, warned by state officials last year that it was in danger of losing state money, has been recommended for a $17,000 operational grant this year from the California Arts Council, state and alliance officials said Wednesday.

The recommendation, which local alliance officials termed “a vote of confidence” from the advisory panel of the state agency’s State-Local Partnership program, virtually assures that the troubled organization will receive the funds.

“They (advisory panel members) felt the alliance has taken significantly encouraging steps to become stronger in programming, especially in efforts to provide multicultural activities, and in restructuring leadership,” said Gloria Segal, an aide for the state council.

Segal said the state panel’s recommendation on the 1987 Orange County grant is expected to be confirmed at a meeting of the full council in June. The Orange County Arts Alliance was one of 49 county or city arts organizations recommended for operational grants this year. Eleven organizations were rejected, she said.


The state panel last year turned down a special grant request from the Arts Alliance and warned the group that it risked losing even this year’s basic $17,000 operational grant because of lackluster programming and fund-raising efforts.

Robert Garfias, president of the Arts Alliance, said Wednesday that the panel recommendation was “clearly a vote of confidence” and a recognition of the group’s efforts to respond to the panel’s criticisms.

“To us, it means we are doing our best to change from a purely support role to a more activist one,” added Garfias, dean of UC Irvine’s School of Fine Arts and newly appointed member of the National Council of the Arts.

The Orange County Arts Alliance has received a state grant in the “basic operations” category annually since 1980, when it was designated the county’s official planning and support organization in the arts. Until last year’s special grant proposal was rejected, it also had received additional state grants, usually for planning or special programs.

Segal said Wednesday that the advisory panel was “heartened” by the Orange County organization’s newest efforts, including the local alliance’s outreach to involve ethnic minority arts groups. An $8,000 multicultural survey being conducted by the alliance is being financed by the state, Pacific Bell and a private statewide arts consortium.

Garfias said the alliance also is hiring a private arts consultant as part of a sweeping reevaluation of all alliance programs. Being proposed are more “direct service” programs to artists, in addition to the alliance’s regular workshop and planning efforts.

Last month, as part of the reorganization, the alliance’s staff administrator, Michelle Weigand, was dismissed, Garfias said. He added that there were no immediate plans to hire a replacement.